UNICEF reports that, since 2000, AIDS-related deaths in Africa have tripled among adolescents—even as they have declined among all other age groups. This grim distinction stems from the fact that a generation of children, infected with HIV perinatally, is growing into adolescence without access to life-saving interventions.
A leading killer of those infected with HIV is tuberculosis (TB); the World Health Organization reports that in 2015, 35 percent of all AIDS-related deaths were due to TB.
Partner Rikard Wikström and associate Henrik Wireklint from Stockholm, along with London associate Sam Harding, supported two organizations that are bringing the full force of community-building and modern technology to bear on the twin scourges of HIV and TB: Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT) and Keheala.
The World Health Organization reports that in 2015, 35 percent of all AIDS-related deaths were due to TB.
In tandem with UNICEF and the World Health Organization, SAT is launching a global initiative to address policies and regulations concerning adolescents' access to HIV prevention.
Since 1990, SAT has partnered with approximately 100 community organizations in the region—from Botswana to Zimbabwe—to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights, and to counter the spread of AIDS. To help provide a clear picture of existing frameworks, SAT recently enlisted the help of ten law firms to undertake an exhaustive global study of relevant regulations and policies. Lawyers from several of our offices took charge of country-specific studies on France and Sweden.
In addition to researching the age of consent laws, our lawyers surveyed regulations and policies affecting access to key forms of treatment. Findings across jurisdictions suggest that access to crucial services—contraceptives, for instance—is complicated by the fact that practical realities and common practice often fly in the face of formal guidelines. In Brazil, for instance, though prophylactics are recommended, they are not commercially available. By providing a full and nuanced picture of the current legal and regulatory situation, our research will help empower SAT and other organizations in the fight against AIDS.
The availability of lifesaving drugs means little in the absence of patient compliance. In Kenya, Keheala is currently testing a mobile software system that monitors and motivates treatment adherence among patients with TB by delivering powerful, behavior-modifying social science interventions.
Keheala provides an escalating series of interventions for noncompliant patients. After the first day of nonadherence, patients receive a text message; after the second, a call; on the third day of continued noncompliance, the patient receives an in-person visit. Keheala's system, based on emerging research from the social sciences, also allows clinicians to access real-time patient information—as well as answer patient questions—remotely.
Partner James Trainor in New York and associate Jason Xu in Washington, DC provided legal support for the first study evaluating Keheala's intervention. The study, a collaborative effort between a behavioral psychologist and an economist from two leading research universities, has found that patients who use Keheala's platform have demonstrated a treatment success rate of 96 percent—17 percent higher than the control group.
"The success of this study confirms the impact of Keheala's work," Jason says. "It's gratifying to help an organization that has both a demonstrated track record and a significant capacity for expansion."
UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
GOALS ADVANCED BY THIS WORK
01 | No Poverty
03 | Good Health and Well-Being
05 | Gender Equality
09 | Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10 | Reduced Inequalities