Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone, peer support and science in Zambia, and a groundbreaking activist group reflects on a year of challenges . . . We’re reading why affected community inclusion changes everything

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NewWWRCDC reports on Ebola survivors – As living proof that Ebola is not inevitably fatal, survivors of the current outbreak in West Africa have valuable stories to tell. With the possibility of some acquired immunity to the virus, they also may be better able than others to fill needed roles of caregivers and burial team members in their communities. And, although the benefit has not been proven, the blood of survivors has been hoped to improve the odds of some of those sick with the disease and fighting for their own survival. Ebola survivors, in short, emerge from illness with the potential to make significant contributions to the fight against the disease. With a survival rate in the current epidemic of at least 30 percent (and potentially much higher with faster and better care), thousands of them have sought to rejoin their communities, and regain their livelihoods in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea over the last year. But experience has shown Ebola survivors face discrimination and marginalization in addition to the loss of their possessions, loved ones and jobs. Two early released articles from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report look at efforts to support Ebola survivors. They find that heightening their inclusion in response efforts will be a win-win.

Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia highlights community role – Following the story of a community coordinator for cervical cancer services outreach, this video from the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia shows how collaboration between researchers, medical providers and consumers of services maximizes benefits of work to tackle HIV and TB, build health systems, and improve outcomes for women and children. Founded in 2001 with support from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, CIDRZ became an independent Zambian organization four years ago. The story of Susan, a young mother who worked cleaning offices when she was diagnosed with HIV, who found support, a role, and now the rewards of helping others in her community through work with CIDRZ illustrates the promise, impact and stakes of the organization’s work as it seeks to maintain the funding and resources it needs.

Using lessons, strategies learned early in AIDS fight, adding new goals – The vision of responsive research for, and equitable access to life-saving interventions hasn’t changed, but the mission has grown since Treatment Action Group took on HIV and inertia in the early 1990s. Now, this update on struggles and steps in the year past reviews the group’s work to challenge restrictive and stigmatizing domestic Ebola policies, to fight for affordable hepatitis and TB drugs, to set a path in New York to end AIDS, and to never lose sight of the quest for a cure. The group’s success in identifying and acting on public health issues has its roots in its beginnings, when its organizers were fighting for their own lives, an interview with a board member highlights.

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