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Bristol Myers Squibb : Foundation : Marks World AIDS Day with Grants Totaling More than $3.5M for HIV and Cervical and Breast Cancer Programs in Africa

12/01/2015 | 09:08am US/Eastern

Grants to 16 organizations will strengthen HIV programs for adolescents and the elderly, support women co-infected with HIV and cervical or breast cancers and integrate treatment for co-infection with HIV and tuberculosis

To mark World AIDS Day, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation today announced 16 grants totaling $3.5 million for programs in Africa that strengthen HIV services for adolescents and the elderly, raise awareness and access to health care for women co-diagnosed with HIV and breast or cervical cancer, and build community capacity and integrate treatment for HIV/tuberculosis (TB) co-infection.

The grants, both new and extensions for ongoing programs, were awarded through the Foundation’s landmark Secure the Future® initiative, which brings community-based care and support to people with living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Since its launch in 1999, Secure the Future has awarded more than $183 million in grants to more than 350 projects.

“The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation joins with our existing and new partners to continue working toward a world that is free of HIV,” says John Damonti, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “Through these grants, the Foundation and its partners are helping to ensure that HIV-positive youth and the elderly in Africa continue to receive much-needed care and support, and that women who are co-infected with HIV and cervical or breast cancer have information and access to potentially lifesaving screening and treatment. In addition, given the close correlation between HIV infection and TB, it is essential that we work with our partners to continue strengthening community programs and approaches that integrate both diseases.”

Adolescents and the elderly

Adolescents in Africa often have difficulty accessing treatment for HIV and other health and psychosocial services. In addition, stigma and other barriers result in many youth being lost to care even before beginning treatment or immediately after testing positive for HIV.

Africa also has a growing population of elderly people who are HIV-positive as a result of greater access to antiretroviral therapies and a general increase in the aging population. This trend has implications for policy, planning and practice. Most research and data have focused on the effects of the epidemic on children, youth and prime-age adults, but there is a need for studies that investigate patients 50 and older.

Grants for programs that address care and support of adolescents living with HIV will be implemented by Children’s Radio Project, South Africa; Sinomlando Project, South Africa; and AfricAid Zvandiri, Zimbabwe. Studies of HIV prevention practices among adults 50 and older and HIV/cancer co-infection among the elderly will be implemented by the University of Cape Town’s Institute of Ageing in Africa and Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, Tanzania.

HIV and Female Cancers

In sub-Saharan Africa, cervical and breast cancers are the leading causes of cancer death among women. The rate of cervical cancer among women living with HIV is three times higher than those who are not HIV-positive, primarily because of co-infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical and other gynecological cancers. An estimated 60% to 80% of women in sub-Saharan Africa who are living with HIV are infected with HPV. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon (PRRR), a global partnership fighting women’s cancers, have been working together to reduce the rate of female cancers among women who are co-infected with HIV.

Eight organizations have received grants that will continue to build knowledge about HIV and cancer, increase HIV/cervical/breast cancer screening and diagnosis efforts and strengthen the Foundation’s collaboration with PRRR. Programs will be implemented by Tanzania Youth Alliance; Medical Women Association of Tanzania; Mbeya HIV/AIDS Network, Tanzania; Tanzania Marketing and Communications; Mathiwos Wondu-YeEthiopia Cancer Society, Ethiopia; Doctors With Africa CUAMM, Tanzania; Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force, South Africa; and Forum for African Women Educationalists Swaziland Chapter.

HIV and Tuberculosis

In countries with high levels of HIV, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, about 80% of people with TB also have HIV. Globally, TB is among the deadliest diseases and a leading killer of people living with HIV. Since it was launched in 1999, the Foundation’s Secure the Future initiative has been committed to helping patients with TB who also have HIV. For the past three years, the Foundation has been collaborating with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global TB Program on ENGAGE-TB, a program to strengthen community-based care for patients who have TB and for those co-infected with HIV.

Grants to partners who are building capacity within communities for integrated HIV/TB screening, diagnosis and treatment will be implemented by Consortium of Christian Relief & Development Association, Ethiopia; National University of Lesotho Consuls Unit; and Grassroots Poverty Alleviation Program, Kenya.

About the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

The mission of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is to help reduce health disparities by strengthening community-based health care worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease.

For more information about the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, please visit www.bms.com/foundation or follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bmsnews.

© Business Wire 2015
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