Women Are The Cure!

The latest episode of A Shot In The Arm podcast is out!

We talk with the South African HIV, women’s rights and science activist, Yvette Raphael. I met her nearly twenty years ago, recently diagnosed with HIV and an HIV workplace peer educator. Since then - my word - has she blossomed into one of South Africa’s leading civic leaders! I caught up with her as she participated in an advisory board review of HIV and family planning clinical research on the East Coast of the US. She also visited the Smithsonian’s exhibit Oubreak: Epidemics in a Connected World. She happens to be featured in it, as part of a project on which she collaborating with my partner in crime, NewsDoc Media’s Erik Espera.

We reflect on the - still paltry - state of clinical scientific research into the needs of women in an era of AIDS. So little is understood about HIV and family planning, including contraception and access to safe abortion. I would be in serious hot water with Zeda Rosenberg, if I didnt mention the microbicide ring too. Women account for 52 per cent of all people living with HIV around the world. Can any of our subscribers, listeners and readers direct us to the percentage of global HIV research investment that actually goes towards women and HIV?

Yvette is very interested in Depo-Provera, the injectible birth control drug (and the inspiration for long term injectible PrEP). For so long, there have been suggestions out there that it might increase a woman’s risk of acquiring HIV. Hopefully, we will have a definitive answer later this summer. But it is a crying shame that we have not answered this earlier, and to empower women to make their own decisions about their HIV and reproductive health.

Yyvette talks about the crisis of gender-based violence. A group of young women activists, including Yvette and Vuyiseka Dubula, the head of Stellenbosch University’s Maties HIV centre, has spearheaded a dramatic and highly effective campaign, including a national day of protest, TotalShutdown. The campaign has revolutionized the national debate, reaching even President Cyril Ramaphosa. You can learn more by watching this documentary The People Versus Patriarchy.

We speak about the use of social media - and how the activists have employed it, not only to raise up women, but to engage men through the #menaretrash hashtag. Yvette talks about the U=U movement, and she talks about Bruce - Bruce Richman - one its leaders.

Afterwards (and I know it is a substance heavy episode). I also touch on the breath-taking number of biomedical news reports that came out this last week - CRISPR, stem-cell treatment for Crohns Disease, and of course, the pig heads. We cannot throw up our hands and scream “Brave New World” every time something new is announced. We have to inform ourselves and prepare for the wave of biomedical change that is pouring over us and which will transform our lives. We need to learn from and aspire to be like Yvette Raphael.

You can find A Shot In The Arm Podcast at itunes, google play music , Spotify and Stitcher. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook @shotarmpodcast, and if you like, us - give us 5 stars! Go on, you know you want to….

References You May Find Useful:



International Partnerships for Microbcides





The People Vs Patriarchy

If you are concerned, or want to learn more about HIV testing, prevention and treatment:




and of course…

Pet Shop Boys

All About The Money

The new episode of A Shot In The Arm Podcast is released today on

itunes, google play music , Spotify and Stitcher. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook @shotarmpodcast.

We chat with Chris Collins, President and CEO of Friends of the Global Fight about the essential work he and his team do to protect US funding for the Global Fund and the global response to AIDS, TB and malaria.

It is amazing how Chris and colleagues have sustained, and indeed grown, bipartisan support for the Fund, when this current US administration seeks every opportunity to slash budgets.

Chris talks about the direct impact of development aid on the safety and prosperity of the US, at home and abroad. The late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke (with whom I co-founded the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS with MTV’s Bill Roedy and Georgia Arnold) said that the health of an HIV positive South African miner through access to HIV treatment directly affects the wellness and security of an auto worker in Ohio. Chris calls out particularly the continuing menace of that awful HIV co-traveller, TB.

I am humbled and grateful to everyone for the huge support for A Shot In The Arm’s first episode, 21st Century Prevention. Many of you commented that while it may be nice to see the contents of our HIV prevention shopping bag, they are very unlikely to happen in the current political climate. So why not call that out?

So, I have tried to join the dots between what the US administration actually does and what it would mean for HIV. I make clear my absolute rejection of that kind of evidence-free and isolationist tribal populism. It is shocking, and all too possible. I keep coming back to Congresswoman Lee’s challenging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his assertion that AIDS can be ended and significantly cutting funding at the same time.

We all have to watch for the tendency to drift towards the data that supports our narrative. I know I can do that from time to time. But there is something very different happening now in the US, UK, Hungary, Brazil…. It is beyond the bounds of usual political discourse. We have been here before: A pernicious bullying by the entitled that results from the rest of us not caring enough. And we have beaten it before: Tribal populism only wins when we let it.

This is particularly the case in health. Good health, like good education, is a foundation of civilized society. Everyone is entitled to good health. The question ultimately comes down to how we achieve this. Maybe privately or publicly provided, or a blend of the two. Our job is simply to make that a reality. And in the coming weeks, we will explore the science that could help us.

Finally, I am delighted to share some very good news. The Californian Prostitutes Education Project (CALPEP) of which I am a Board member, announced today that it has appointed the amazing community advocate Jamila Shipp as new Executive Director to succeed Gloria Lockett (who is a friend of A Shot In The Arm, regular contributor and co-host). You can find the announcement here.

I hope you enjoy the podcast. You can find us on iTunes, Google Play Music, Spotify and Stitcher. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook @shotarmpodcast. Be sure to subscribe, and if you like us, give us five stars!

A Shot In the Arm Podcast is brought to you by NewsDoc Media and Hunuvat Global.

Links you may find interesting:












If you are concerned, or want to learn more about HIV testing, prevention and treatment: