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December 01, 2011

‘Integration is key’ to the fight against AIDS

 From left: Judy Manning, Tewdros Melesse, Bocar Daff, and Stephen O'Brien

On World AIDS Day at the International Conference on Family Planning, family planning experts naturally turned to AIDS, and the need to intertwine services for both. The speakers said it was impossible to make headway in preventing the spread of HIV without concurrent investments in family planning.

Tewdros Melesse of the International Planned Parenthood Federation told reporters: “Ninety percent of HIV is sexually transmitted. This is why family planning integration is key” when creating programs to fight the HIV epidemic.

Some large donors, like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, often leave family planning off their agenda, said Dr. Bocar Daff, Director of Reproductive Health for Senegal. the result is that ministries, such as his, are left with limited funds for family planning, he said.

“We need to find ways to collaborate to find key areas for integration between HIV/AIDs programs and family planning programs,” Dr. Daff said.

The speakers said that projects must address the needs of people seeking services related to both family planning and HIV. They said this should include education and counseling programs.

Dr. Daff gave one example of integration was the ministry’s creation of messages to the community about both family planning and HIV prevention. Effective outreach must incorporate local leaders, Dr. Daff said, so that they can spread the word that family planning is not just for birth spacing, but also can prevent more lives from being lost to HIV/AIDS.