Advocates Archive - B
[please choose the first initial of the Advocate's last name]
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
“Though linked geographically, there is extreme diversity in the dynamics of transmission of HIV and potential structural interventions to mitigate transmission. Let the local community lead the way in terms of messaging and strategy, and progress will be made while staying on terra firma.”
Stefan Baral is an IRMA advocate from Baltimore, Maryland. He is a physician, epidemiologist and researcher on the faculty of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health focused on creating more community tailored programs, services, and policies for different communities throughout the world.
Stefan first became involved with IRMA while preparing for the Project ARM - Africa for Rectal Microbicides meeting in Addis Ababa this past December, in conjunction with ICASA. He says it was a natural partnership given the communities he works with across Africa, and believes the meeting got a great start on developing a plan for increased advocacy around rectal microbicides and the accessibility of condom-compatible lubricants. He is excited for everything to be moving forward!
He believes rectal microbicides are such a promising new prevention technology due to encouraging evidence from early studies and the likelihood that people would use them. He is hopeful that rectal microbicides will be in the form of a lubricant to increase the chance that people will use them during anal intercourse.
Stefan is also an advocate for other evidence-based prevention strategies. He loves researching them and advocating for those in which he sees potential. Though he believes rectal microbicides will likely be an important prevention strategy moving forward, he says it is crucial to implement services and strategies in the meantime that are already supported by evidence. He also realizes that though advocacy is key in the fight against HIV/AIDS, service provision is just as important to fully serve different communities.
His advice for combatting stigma associated with standing up for rectal microbicides is short, but important: “Focus on the evidence.”
Thanks Stefan, for all that you do!
[Posted February 2012]
Johannesburg, South Africa
IRMA Steering Committee Member
An HIV/AIDS and human rights activist and organizer with over ten years of experience, Deborah Baron currently lives and works as a consultant in Johannesburg, South Africa – her adopted homeland, though she was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. In 2004 Deborah volunteered as a trial participant in an early Pro-2000 microbicide safety study in New York. Since 2005, she’s done communications, media trainings and community engagement work focused on HIV prevention research. Currently, Deborah coordinates the Microbicides Media and Communications Initiative - a consortium of microbicide developers, advocates, and clinical research organizations working to improve communications around microbicide research.
Soon after Deborah started working on microbicide advocacy, she joined IRMA's e-mail list, and after a number of engaging teleconferences, found herself increasingly involved with IRMA’s work. She co-facilitated a skills-building media training at the Microbicides 2008 Conference in New Delhi, India with IRMA and others. She is also one of the volunteers who edited the IRMA report “Less Silence, More Science."
Deborah believes that rectal microbicides would offer an urgent and much needed additional prevention option for gay men and MSM, as well as women who practice anal sex. For her, “it's a matter of continually planting seeds in the broader field to reframe the discussion toward a fundamental understanding that microbicides are products that could be used vaginally or rectally”.
Deborah holds masters' degrees from Columbia's School of Public Health and School of International and Public Affairs, where she studied international health policy and human rights. She is passionate about building inclusive and dynamic coalitions and creatively stretching limited resources to maximize exposure and impact.
Apart from her two-year involvement with IRMA, she has worked with a number of prevention and treatment advocacy groups, including ACT-UP (East Bay and NY), HealthGAP, CHAMP and AVAC. In South Africa, she's connected to TAC, Gender AIDS Forum and Positive Women’s Network.
On the rare occasions when she has some free time, you can find her out on the town listening to the live music or dancing with friends, doing yoga or competing in old-school board games like Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit: South Africa version – her recent obsession.
[Posted April 2009]
Johannesburg, South Africa
Jonathan Berger, IRMA Steering Committee member, is a senior researcher and policy, research, and communications manager at the AIDS Law Project in Johannesburg, South Africa. After attending a satellite session on rectal microbicides at Microbicides 2006 Conference in Cape Town, he became interested in advocating for research into and the development of rectal microbicides as a way to bolster HIV prevention efforts, particularly in developing countries such as South Africa where existing programs have proved particularly unsuccessful.
Jonathan believes that the more options people have to protect themselves, the greater their chance to prevent infection with HIV. He also maintains that providing widespread access to prevention and treatment tools is essential, for without “ensuring broad assess to the benefits of scientific developments, research conducted on poor people is nothing more than experimentation.”
His professional interests involve exploring ways in which the law can be used as a tool of social change. In his spare time, Jonathan enjoys “travel, food and sex – preferably all at once!” He ran the Soweto Marathon in November 2007, and is upgrading to ultramarathons in 2008 and 2009!
[posted February 2008]
Gabriel currently works on communications and advocacy in a newly created NGO called Planeta Salud (Planet Health). This organization focuses on advocacy regarding HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria while promoting the need for new health tools to combat infectious diseases. With that in mind, rectal and vaginal microbicides are a topic of great interest to him in HIV prevention as they could represent an opportunity to reduce HIV infections worldwide.
He crossed paths with IRMA after working on a project to introduce microbicides on the agenda of important stakeholders in Spain. With his interest in the latest news surrounding rectal microbicides, we’re thrilled that his colleagues recommended him to subscribe to our listserv! He firmly believes that condoms are not enough by themselves in facing the reality of HIV, and thus, rectal microbicides are urgently needed to give more preventative options to both men and women who have anal sex. “We need to introduce pleasure and harm reduction as part of our discourse on HIV prevention, and rectal microbicides are one way we could do it,” he says. Having developed a comprehensive webpage detailing the facts of microbicides and published articles on rectal microbicides in his NGO’s monthly newsletter, Gabriel is clearly deeply committed to his advocacy work. He also offered his talent and expertise in the preparation of "Menos Cilencia Más Ciencia - Iniciativa para que los Microbicidas Rectales sean una Realidad" - the brand new IRMA-ALC Spanish translation of the "Less Silence More Science" report released by IRMA at the Microbicides 2008 conference in New Delhi this past February. The Spanish version of the report will be released at the AIDS 2008 International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, August 2008.
Despite his obviously busy schedule, he tries to travel as much as possible to meet and understand new people and cultures. At the same time, he tries to make time for some books, TV shows, and, of course, Barcelona’s very own Barça soccer team!
[Posted July 2008]
Toni Bond was drawn to IRMA by her commitment to seeking ways to reduce the transmission of HIV among women, and in women of color in particular. She works for reproductive justice through African American Women Evolving (AAWE), where she is executive director. AAWE does health education, policy, and advocacy work with a specific focus on Black women and girls. Toni believes that her work and that of other HIV prevention advocates “has to be seeking those methods that will help to empower women and men to have as much control as possible in reducing their risk,” which involves developing both vaginal and rectal microbicides.
Toni feels strongly that it is important that a rectal microbicide be widely available to people around the world, and that its distribution not be limited “to a certain segment of the world or certain populations of people.”
She is an avid reader, enjoys writing poetry, and loves spending time with her husband Antione and her cat Ms. Cleo.
[posted February 2008]
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
IRMA Steering Committee Member
Latifa Boyce has worked as a Communications Manager at the Alliance for Microbicide Development for more than two years and feels fortunate to have inherited a decade's worth of field knowledge and history from her supervisor and other colleagues at the Alliance.
As an epidemiologist and health/medical journalist by training, Latifa uses own experience to
understand and communicate microbicide science to diverse audiences. A strategic thinker and
visionary, she stays abreast of developments in the field and, after meeting IRMA representatives at a number of joint microbicide advocacy events, keenly advocates for the development of rectal microbicides and for rectal safety testing of vaginal microbicides.She in convinced that "all people deserve to have practical, accessible prevention options to guard and protect them from HIV and other sexually transmitted pathogens. It is their civil right." Along with vaginal microbicides, a rectal microbicide would provide an additional and very practical prevention option.
Most of Latifa’s free time is spent trying to keep up with her two-year-old son. The rest is divided between her many hobbies: advocacy journalism, TV/music production, traveling, fishing, sailing, and swimming.
[Posted March 2009]
Originally from Detroit, Gail now calls Seattle home. She works as a community education project manager with the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). She provides support, technical assistance, and training for community educators and recruiters who work at US clinical trial sites that are part of HVTN. Gail also provides support for the sites' Community Advisory Boards (CABs), and helps to ensure that there is community involvement in every aspect of the HVTN's operations. She was initially brought to IRMA through her connections with IRMA chairs Jim Pickett and Marc-Andre LeBlanc and has kept up to date with the Global Campaign for Microbicides for years now. Having made many friends with GCM staff, she has also been privileged to co-present with them on several occasions.
Gail believes that ALL biomedical prevention technologies are important. One of the lessons she has learned from microbicide advocates is that a cue has to be taken from the family planning folks. “When women are given a variety of options for birth control, they are more likely to find an option that meets their needs, whether that need deals with cost, ease of use, access to the product, etc. Similarly, HIV researchers need to be seeking as many different prevention strategies as possible to meet the needs of the widest range of people around the world.” When Gail is working in vaccine research, she says that she knows finding a vaccine is still a long term goal. In the shorter term, however, she hopes that finding an effective microbicide will give people another tool to keep themselves safe and fight against HIV.
When educating others, Gail always points out the importance of having many tools that can be used before the point of transmission, during the risk behavior when transmission may occur, and after transmission. Rectal or vaginal microbicides could be used before exposure, but in closer proximity when one is having sex. She often uses an idea learned at a conference several years ago: ABC is a nice place to start, but we also need CNN and MTV! (Condom distribution, Needle exchange, Negotiation of safer behaviors, and Microbicide research, Treatment research, Vaccine research). This helps people to think about "combination prevention", which is comparable to "combination therapy" for people already infected.
Gail’s first degree was music, so it’s no surprise that in her free time she sings in a semi-professional choir and for her synagogue. She is active in the Jewish community, especially around social justice issues. She is an avid reader, and you can often find her curled up with a good book and glass of wine.
[Posted October 2008]