The 2017 theme for World AIDS Day is “Increasing Impact through Transparency, Accountability, and Partnerships.”
At Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, we know that partnerships enable our innovative approach to ending cervical cancer deaths. Community action and global cooperation propel our impact.
Our partnership model began in 2011 with four founding partners – The George W. Bush Institute, The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Susan G. Komen, and UNAIDS. Since then, we have expanded to 26 partner groups and organizations, from major global pharmaceutical companies to grassroots NGOs. In each of the countries where we work, our partners help us pioneer new ways to deliver health care services to those in need.
Ambassador Deborah Birx, head of PEPFAR, stated at the 2016 Concordia Summit: “Because cervical cancer affects women mostly in their 30s to 50s, the disease strikes when women are raising their children, building their families, and being productive members of society.” Since the disease is preventable, we want to stop it before it appears, so women can continue to thrive in their communities and families.
Human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection, causes cervical cancer. For most, the immune system eliminates the virus on its own after some time. But, in a small percentage of women, the virus can progress and eventually cause cancer. HIV-positive women are 4-5 times more likely to develop cervical cancer from an HPV infection because of the already-weakened state of their immune systems. This World AIDS Day, we are focused on leveraging our partnerships to address the HIV-cervical cancer link.
With help from our partners, we can vaccinate, screen, and treat. We target girls aged 9-13 for HPV immunization, as it is unlikely that girls in this age group have reached their sexual debut. Through mass-screening campaigns, we have been able to screen over 430,543 women for cervical cancer in our partner countries. The coordinated and holisticpproach – vaccinating, screening, and treating, as well as policy development and awareness raising – allows us to be thorough in addressing the cervical cancer burden.
Vital to Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon’s success, our implementing partners are integral in providing screen and treat services. They have played a role in coordinating numerous screen-and-treat sites, conducting mass-screening campaigns, and programming outreach opportunities. They have also assisted us in drafting national cervical cancer control and prevention strategies. Recently, our partners helped pilot digital cervicography devices, train healthcare workers, and evaluate the implementation of our programs. PEPFAR, in particular, has transformed the HIV/AIDS effort, and PEPFAR countries are continuously expanding development of HIV/AIDS control and care platforms. Building on PEPFAR’s strategic plans has allowed Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon to expand and increase our influence in our partner countries.
Our partners empower us to help the hardest-to-reach women and to treat those who are most at risk – a feat that would be quite difficult on our own. Our partnership model proves that global impact is possible through global cooperation.