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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Post: IAC (Second Day of Panels, 2)

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Couples, Families, & Transmission 

Yes, I am aware I am only 20 years old, and still in a fairly new relationship. But I am also a planner. I need to know what I should be aware of for my future and whoever else is in it.

I wanted to find out who do I talk to in my life to plan for a family, how can I stay safe within my relationship, what are my options, etc.

This is very much for the future but this is what I do! I had to find out!

I plan, I schedule, and I prepare! 

(There was a long line up of presenters, so they were all pretty quick and to the point).

Sarah EK Bradley presented information on couples in Mozambique.
  • 1/10 couples in Mozambique are sero-discordant (one partner is HIV positive, the other negative)
  • 1/3 HIV affected couples are concordant (both partners have HIV) 
  • Condom use within couples is very low, unless partners have become aware of their status.
Alright, thank you, Mozambique. I guess promotion of HIV testing within couples is needed in order to decrease transmission?

Here is where I got really excited...

Shannon Weber from The National Perinatal Clinicians Network in San Francisco presented next.
This network has created a HIV Hotline (1-888-448-8765) that provides conception options for HIV sero-discordant couples in the United States!

Finally, the beginning to finding out answers to my future questions and issues!

The network helps couples gain access to clinics, information, and informs the couples of their reproductive rights.

With 140,000 heterosexual HIV sero-discordant couples in the US, I was so happy to hear about this network and hotline! A solution has been put in place, and I hope it will have expanded greatly by the time I have to use it.

(After this presentation I could have just left... but like a good delegate I stuck around and continued to scribble down some notes about couples in other countries)

Dunja Nicca (Switzerland) stated that the trouble with some couples is that the HIV negative partner has some uncertainty or misinformation about the HIV positive partner. There are levels of how the partners interact with each other based on their comfort levels and education.

1. Condom Commitment (trying to stay sexually safe, fully prepared)
2. Rule Commitment (figuring out ways to stay safe without always using condoms)
3. Flexible Adaption (strategic with safety as new information is released)
4. Incongruous Adaption (don't discuss, sexual risk taking)

 Well noted, Switzerland! Couples need to discuss all aspects of the relationship. Communication is key even in a non sero-discordant couple! (SMART Youth's Healthy Relationship Workshops have taught me well) ;)

Kimberly Powers spoke about transmission in Malawi. She brought up a term "stable couples", these were couples within the HIV discordant group that... actually the terms for what made them "stable" wasn't quite clear. I believe it is the fact that the negative partner has stayed negative for a certain amount of time, and they have preventative measures in place. The question of "What are their prevention strategies?" came up in the conclusion of the presentation.

Pamela Kohler discussed PMTCT (Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission) in Kenya. The improvements for Kenya's PMTCT community included: more partner involvement with PMTCT uptake, as well as efforts to increase ARV uptake during delivery are necessary.
 Short and to the point, got it!

Maureen Chilila presented a study in Zambia that showed how couples counseling increased ARV uptake by pregnant women.
  • There is a 14.3% prevalence rate, of this percentage 16% are pregnant women, then of this percentage 63% of the women are provided with drugs for PMTCT.
  • Only 10% of couples text together. 
The improvements shown through this study is for national encouragement of male involvement for PMTCT. This sounds like a great plan! It takes two to tango (AKA make a baby) so... it should take two to keep that baby healthy!

Overall, I did walk away from this panel with some information that is pertinent to me and my future. Some questions were answered- or more likely will be answered when I come to that point in life.

My one critique is, and this isn't necessarily for the panel specifically, but why is it that the International AIDS Conference is being held in the USA for the first time in... 20 years? And... I am just now hearing about some strategies for HIV positive people in the US at this conference?

I know HIV in the US isn't the top country for the pandemic, and that this IS an INTERNATIONAL conference, but... it IS in the US, how about a little more info for the delegates that are based in this country? Maybe I wasn't attending the right panels...    

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