2013 (January – July)

July 2013

Experts discuss human rights and chronic disease at USC
Global experts convened at USC to discuss a human rights approach to preventing and controlling noncommunicable diseases at a conference organized by the USC Program on Global Health & Human Rights.Learn more »


Professor Ferguson named contributing expert to WHO ARV guidelines
Laura Ferguson, assistant professor for the Program on Global Health & Human Rights, was a contributing expert on the World Health Organization’s consolidated antiretroviral guidelines for 2013 HIV monitoring and evaluation. Professor Ferguson’s interest in bringing the perspectives of women who use HIV-related services to global policy discussions and her research expertise contributed greatly to gathering evidence to inform these global guidelines.Learn more »

Professor Gruskin participates in international conference on human rights
In early July, a select group of government representatives, international organizations, civil society representatives, academics and youth came together in The Netherlands to determine key achievements, barriers and emerging challenges impacting the state of sexual and reproductive health and rights today at the ICPD International Conference on Human Rights. As a member of the reference group for the meeting, Professor Sofia Gruskin, Director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights, helped to shape the direction and key messages emerging from the conference. During the conference Professor Gruskin spoke about the future of the field, calling for action on several fronts. Meeting outcomes will inform the United Nations Secretary-General’s report to the 47th Commission on Population and Development in April 2014 and a General Assembly special session later that year. Learn more »

June 2013

Professor Gruskin delivers lecture to Annenberg World Bank course
Professor Sofia Gruskin gave a lecture for the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism for the 2012 Summer Institute in Communication and Governance Reform Course. The class is designed for senior professionals working on global reform initiatives. Professor Gruskin’s lecture compared funding and support for international initiatives as related to global political priorities.

Sofia Gruskin appointed to AIDS Conference Committee
Professor Sofia Gruskin, director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights, was appointed to the Committee for the Social and Political Research, Law, Policy and Human Rights of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS2014). The conference will take place next year in Melbourne, Australia. The committee comprises six members representing different geographical regions and areas of expertise within the track. As a committee member, Gruskin will play an active role in the preparation of the AIDS2014 conference program.

Professor Laura Ferguson appointed to WHO expert advisory group
Professor Laura Ferguson was invited to join the World Health Organization’s Expert Advisory Group for the Study on Mortality Among Children Under Five as a Human Rights Concern. In March, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the child’s to health in which it invited the WHO to prepare the study. Ferguson was asked to join the advisory group because of her expertise in this area that includes support to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in defining the child’s right to health and background research to inform the Human Rights Council meeting in March. The study aims to provide the rationale for incorporating a human rights-based approach into efforts towards eliminating under-five mortality and will be submitted as a report to the Council during its September 2013 session.

May 2013

Professor Sofia Gruskin Serves as an Advisor for the World Health Organization (WHO) on Human Rights and Family Planning
Professor Sofia Gruskin, Director of the Program on Global Health and Human Rights, heads the Indicators Working Group linked to the WHO’s work with other partners on “Ensuring and Monitoring Rights, Equity and Quality in Family Planning Programmes.” The technical meeting which reviewed draft guidance and indicators took place in Montreux, Switzerland brought together over 80 scientific experts, demographers, clinical and community family planning providers, programme managers, government officials, and partner organizations. The goals of the consultation were to identify a comprehensive rights based approach to family planning services and to form recommendations and best practices for monitoring and evaluating quality of care in family planning programs to ensure that services are rights based. A public meeting report is currently being generated, and a follow up meeting is scheduled for June in New York City.

GHHR participates in Boston meeting on reproductive health and rights
Professors Sofia Gruskin, Laura Ferguson and GHHR Fellow Dr. Sarah MacCarthy traveled to Boston to participate in a conference and research meeting entitled, “Contested Domains: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of People Living with HIV.” The meeting was sponsored by the Boston based Group on Reproductive Health and Human Rights, which Professor Gruskin used to head. The day consisted of a public meeting comprising two panel presentations and a smaller research meeting bringing together researchers working in this area from USC, Harvard, Boston University, Northeastern, Johns Hopkins, JSI, AIDSAction and Fenway Health. During the public meeting, Professor Gruskin chaired the session entitled, “Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Research.” Dr. MacCarthy presented on HIV-related health and rights issues among transgender populations. Professor Ferguson chaired the session entitled, “Empirical Issues from the Field.” The meeting focused on the sexual and reproductive heath and rights of people living with HIV who ordinarily are not included in relevant research including men who have sex with men, drug users, sex workers and homeless populations. A number of cutting edge research issues were identified and participants will be working together to seek funding to move this work forward. For more information click here.

Professor Sofia Gruskin participates in high-level meeting at Yale Law School
Professor Gruskin, Director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights, was invited to New Haven to participate in a high-level meeting on human rights and access to medicines sponsored by the Yale Law School and the Yale School of Public Health. Bringing together researchers and activists from around the world interested in the potential promise and pitfalls of linking access to medicines work with human rights norms and standards. The meeting was entitled, “A Human Rights Based Approach to Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines.”

Identifying structural barriers to an effective HIV response
An article authored by Program on Global Health & Human Rights Director Sofia Gruskin, Assistant Professor Laura Ferguson, and others, was published by the Journal of the International AIDS Society (JIAS) on April 26, 2013. The article, “Identifying structural barriers to an effective HIV response: using the National Composite Policy Index data to evaluate the human rights, legal and policy environment,” reviews national legal and policy environments around the world as they pose barriers to HIV prevention and care for sex workers, drug users and men who have sex with men. Read the article »

April 2013

USC Institute for Global Health presents at 4th Annual Conference of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health
Faculty from the USC Institute for Global Health and its Program on Global Health & Human Rights presented at the 4th Annual Conference of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, which took place March 14 – 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Read more »

Professor Laura Ferguson contributes to improving children’s health and human rights globally
The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on March 23 that brought the UN one step closer to securing children’s health-related rights across the globe. Laura Ferguson, assistant professor in the USC Department of Preventive Medicine and USC Program on Global Health & Human Rights, played a key role in the technical, political and practical processes surrounding the resolution and other related efforts. Read more »

March 2013

Institute of Medicine releases PEPFAR evaluation, highlights successes and areas requiring attention
The Institute of Medicine has just published its long-awaited evaluation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The report, Evaluation of PEPFAR, praises the initiative for saving and improving millions of lives worldwide and proving that HIV/AIDS services can be effectively delivered on a large scale even in countries with high rates of disease and resource constraints. In addition to highlighting PEPFAR’s successes, the IOM report notes areas for improvement in a range of areas from their approach to prevention to the support given to partner countries. Two years in the making, the evaluation was authored by the Committee for the Outcome and Impact Evaluation of Global HIV/AIDS Programs Implemented Under the Lantos/Hyde Act of 2008, of which Professor Sofia Gruskin, director of the USC Program on Global Health & Human Rights, is one of 18 members. An official launch is scheduled for April 1 2013. Read the report here. More information »

Professor Laura Ferguson examines operationalization of provider-initiated HIV testing, counseling in sub-Saharan Africa
Through a systematic literature review of existing peer-reviewed publications on the operationalization policies of PITC in health facilities, a team of authors including Professor Laura Ferguson highlighted the current state of implementation of provider-initiated HIV testing and counseling (PITC) policies in sub-Saharan Africa. The article published in AIDS and entitled “Provider-initiated testing and counseling programs in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review of their operational implementation,” exhibits how PITC policies offer an unprecedented opportunity to increase the uptake of HIV counseling and testing by targeting individuals who are already in contact with health services. PITC eliminates the need to motivate individuals to attend a health facility for HIV counseling and testing. However, in several studies of routine programs, the proportion of patients offered HIV testing was disappointingly low, as was acceptance of HIV testing. Professor Ferguson and her co-authors underscore the need for PITC policies in sub-Saharan Africa to be implemented alongside health system strengthening, improved linkage of people diagnosed with HIV into long-term HIV care and treatment services and increased efforts towards the normalization of HIV at the community level. Download the article (PDF) »

February 2013

Professor Sofia Gruskin Appointed to United Nations Reference Group
The United Nations Population Fund, The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Government of the Netherlands are organizing an International Conference on Human Rights to support the International Cairo Platform for Development (ICPD) Global Review process. The ICPD was developed in 1994 during the International Conference on Population and Development. The Platform outlined a 20-year global action plan for realizing reproductive health and rights. The upcoming conference entitled, ICPD Beyond 2014 International Conference on Human Rights, will provide an opportunity for governments and civil society to assess the implementation of the ICPD with attention to the nexus between human rights, equality, equity and population and development. The conference will identify success stories and lessons learned as well as remaining gaps and challenges and emerging issues and priorities for the future. Professor Gruskin, a global expert in sexual and reproductive health and rights, was asked to serve as one of only seven experts from around the world to help conceptualize the substance and outcomes for the conference. The conference will take place July 7 – 10, 2013 in the Netherlands.

Professor Sofia Gruskin Participates in USC Human Trafficking Conference
Professor Sofia Gruskin, director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights, and Chelsea Moore, a project specialist, participated in a USC conference entitled, From Prosecution to Empowerment: Fighting Trafficking and Promoting the Rights of Migrants. The conference, co-sponsored by the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, USC Center for International Studies, and the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, aimed to contribute to connecting the fight on human trafficking with broader movements to empower migrant laborers. The conference also outlined how the war on trafficking can be a vehicle for promoting the human rights and worker rights of migrants, how to reduce their vulnerability to abuse, and how to empower them in the process of labor migration. Professor Gruskin moderated the panel entitled, “Sex Workers: The Impact of Curb Campaigns.” The conference agenda, along with a description of the panel, can be found here.

January 2013

USC examines decisions of pregnant HIV-positive women
Living longer with the aid of antiretroviral therapy, HIV-positive women are facing unprecedented challenges when it comes to making decisions about pregnancy and childbearing.A USC-led project headed by Sofia Gruskin, director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights at the USC Institute for Global Health, aims to ensure HIV-positive women are at the center of decision-making regarding their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Reproductive Health Matters, an international peer-reviewed journal, posted “Pregnancy decisions of women living with HIV,” a series of online articles in December.Read the full story »

Professor Gruskin Teaches Global Health Course in Fortaleza, Brazil
Professor Sofia Gruskin, director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights, traveled to Fortaleza, Brazil, as an instructor for the Harvard University-Brazil Collaborative Public Health Field Course. The course runs annually. This year focusing on infectious disease, the course brings together core faculty from Harvard and Brazilian institutions to work with students drawn from Harvard and multiple partner institutions in Brazil to address on-the-ground public health problems. Professor Gruskin set the conceptual framework for the three week course, participated in site visits and helped support group work in HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. In addition to her appointments at USC, Professor Gruskin is an adjunct professor of global health at the Harvard School of Public Health. She has been collaborating for over a decade with colleagues in Brazil and is currently working to facilitate USCs engagement in a 2014 collaborative course.