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World AIDS Week Is Local at BJGMC in Pune, India
By Smita Nimkar
Established in 1988 as the first global health day, World AIDS Day is an annual occasion to unite in support of those living with HIV and to remember those who have died from HIV-related illness. The BJGMC-JHU Clinical Research Site (CRS) currently has more than 20 HIV research studies underway, and each year the site observes World AIDS Week by sponsoring events that promote HIV awareness and education. This year approximately 200 people living with HIV and their families participated in events convened on December 5 at the Antiretroviral Therapy Center at Sassoon General Hospitals, Pune.
2018 Focus: HPV & HIV
The World AIDS Week program focused on both HIV and on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) among people living with HIV. Dr. Shashikala Sangle (Head, Department of Medicine), Dr. Samir Joshi (Head, Department of ENT), and Dr. Sandesh Patil (Clinical Coordinator) all delivered remarks about HPV screening among HIV positive people, adhering to medications, and the importance of keeping CD4 count high and viral load at an undetectable level.
TREAT Asia Network Takes the Lead
The program was sponsored by the Indo-JHU TREAT Asia Team, led by Smita Nimkar and Dr. Ivan Marbaniang. TREAT Asia (Therapeutics Research, Education, and AIDS Training in Asia) is an amfAR-supported regional network of hospitals, research institutions, and clinics dedicated to advancing safe and effective HIV treatment to adults and children through research, education and training, and community advocacy and policy. The BJGMC-JHU CRS is a TREAT Asia network member with several research studies underway. The HPV awareness presentation was run for two days at the ART Center, and TREAT Asia Counselors Mrs. Suhasini Surwase, Mrs. Archana Pawar, and Mrs. Kanta Zarekar discussed disease risk factors and transmission, and emphasized the importance of screening.
Clinical Research Featured
With Drs. Vidya Mave and Nishi Suryavanshi representing CRS leadership and ART Medical Officer Dr. Bhalekar in attendance, the program actively promoted promising developments in HIV clinical research and ongoing trials at BJGMC. Participation among HIV clinical trial participants was enhanced through the efforts of Ms. Vaishali Nadgeri, a study counselor for ACTG5288, Management Using the Latest Technologies in Resource-limited Settings to Optimize Combination Therapy After Viral Failure version (MULTI-OCTAVE). Two individuals who are enrolled in ACTG5288 shared their experiences as research participants and conveyed how participation in the trial provided access to care that improved their health. A street play was organized by Sunita Patekar, an Outreach Counselor, and performed by the Navaratna group. The play was developed to promote awareness that HPV and risky behaviors among people living with HIV can lead to cervical, oral, rectal, and throat cancers. The program ended with distribution of laddus (an Indian sweet) to all the participants.