Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Meet Bobby - A Friendly Rectal Microbicide Advocate from India

Check out this interesting min-bio of Bobby Ramakant, the latest in  IRMA's "Meet a Friendly Rectal Microbicide Advocate" series on the IRMA website here.  Bobby is one of six new bios just posted two days ago, including individuals from Kenya, Thailand, the UK, the US and Argentina.  Each will be featured on the blog, and you can read all of them here right now.

Bobby Ramakant
Lucknow, India

"Rectal microbicide research and advocacy for HIV prevention options for those practicing anal sex is not just about product advocacy but about giving a right to health and a right to choice especially to those receptive partners (women and men) of anal sex who are currently unable to use existing HIV prevention options."

Bobby is an IRMA advocate, a health activist and a brain tumor survivor who graduated in science and communications and then later went on to journalism. He currently works with Citizen News Service. He passionately believes that unless voices and perspectives of affected communities are heard and documented in the main discourses on HIV, the desired change will not come. Bobby believes that true knowledge lies with the people who are dealing with these issues on a daily basis.

His biggest influence has been Dr. Sandeep Pandey who is a noted Gandhian activist. Dr. Sandeep Pandey has always believed in Bobby and encourages him by saying, "that if we truly believe in our deepest convictions and act upon it, resources and means to achieve the goals will follow." Mahatma Gandhi is another inspiration because of the shared desire for a just social order. He also loves listening to Indian and English music and is a big foodie.

Bobby got involved with IRMA in 2006, when Naz Foundation International team members organized an informational meeting about rectal microbicides. Although rectal microbicides were not a novel concept to him, they came up very strongly during INN Meetings (Indian Network of NGOs on HIV/AIDS) held in Tamil Nadu and Utter Pradesh, India. In 2008, as rectal microbicides were growing in stature, Bobby and his team raised this issue in the "Microbicides Experts Group" of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in junction with the Microbicides Society of India. From here Bobby and his colleagues managed to secure and mandate some resources for basic science research on rectal microbicides in India.

Bobby believes that rectal microbicides are particularly important because, if proven safe and effective for HIV prevention, receptive male and female partners in anal sex will have an HIV prevention option that they can control. He thinks this is predominantly important for those who are unable to negotiate safer sex with condoms or use other currently existing HIV prevention options. If rectal microbicides are developed as a lubricant, that might be quite acceptable because many people who practice anal sex commonly use some kind of lubricant already.

His advice for IRMA is to have in-country members of IRMA who can take leadership to organize and develop country-driven advocacy programs to support IRMA's mission.

Bobby is involved in preparing for the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012). He and fellow staffers from CNS will be working with IRMA to amplify rectal microbicide research and advocacy and related issues at AIDS 2012. He encourages all to stay connected and stay tuned.

Thanks Bobby for all that you do!

*Join IRMA's robust, highly-active. moderated, global listserv addressing rectal microbicide research and advocacy as well as other interesting new HIV prevention technologies by contacting us at Joining our listserv automatically makes you a member of IRMA - a network of more than 1,100 advocates, scientists, policy makers and funders from all over the world.

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