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.
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References You May Find Useful:
The People Vs Patriarchy
If you are concerned, or want to learn more about HIV testing, prevention and treatment:
and of course…