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HIV Unmuted – Why is public health unfair? The story of monkeypox, COVID-19 and HIV

The development of COVID-19 vaccines has allowed some people to return to “normal life”. But even now, not everyone has access to these vaccines, especially people living in low-income countries.

Unequal access to health care is a sadly familiar story for people living with HIV. From 1997 to 2006, an estimated 12 million people on the African continent died because HIV treatment was too expensive.

In this episode of HIV unmuted, the award-winning IAS podcast, we’ll discuss why these parallels in unfair access to healthcare play out time and time again, we’ll look at the recent outbreak of monkeypox, and assess whether we’ve drawn essential lessons from COVID-19 and HIV.

Our guests are:

  • Patricia Asero Ochieng is the President of the International Community of Women Living with HIV in Kenya. She was diagnosed with HIV in the 1990s when her daughter was born. In Kenya at the time, access to HIV treatment was scarce and stigma was rampant. Patricia knew the answer lay in access and began advocating for treatment.
  • Eric Goemaere is an infectious disease specialist with a 40-year career at Médecins Sans Frontières. When Eric arrived in South Africa in the mid-1990s, he was ready for a challenge working on the world’s largest HIV epidemic. He did not expect the greatest HIV treatment access challenges he was about to face. Meg Doherty is Director of the Department of Global Programs on HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections at the World Health Organization (WHO). Meg helps us understand why – even when we have the science and the means to deal with outbreaks – we continue to have uneven global health outcomes.
  • mike ryan is the Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. Being at the forefront of managing acute global health risks for nearly 25 years, Mike discusses pandemic preparedness and access issues in global health and applies this to the current outbreak.
  • Rena Janamnuaysook is Program Manager for Transgender Health at the HIV Research Institute in Bangkok, Thailand, where she established the Tangerine Community Health Clinic, the first trans-led health clinic in Southeast Asia. . When COVID-19 hit, she had to pivot locally to address issues that, globally, continue to hamper our responses to the pandemic.