Jason Beaubien

Jason Beaubien is NPR's Global Health and Development Correspondent on the Science Desk.

In this role, he reports on a range of health issues across the world including the mobilization of massive circumcision drives in Kenya; how Botswana, with one of the highest rates of HIV in the world, has managed to provide free, life-saving drugs to almost all who need them; and why Brazil's once model HIV/AIDS program is seen in decline.

Prior to moving into this assignment in 2012, Beaubien spent four years a NPR foreign correspondent covering Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. From his base in Mexico City, Beaubien filed stories on politics in Cuba, hurricanes in Haiti, the FMLN victory in El Salvador, the world's richest man and Mexico's brutal drug war.

For his first multi-part series as the Mexico City correspondent, Beaubien drove the length of the U.S./Mexico border making a point to touch his toes in both oceans. The stories chronicled the economic, social and political changes along the violent frontier.

In 2002, Beaubien joined NPR after volunteering to cover a coup attempt in the Ivory Coast. Over the next four years, Beaubien worked as a foreign correspondent in sub-Saharan Africa, visiting 27 countries on the continent. His reporting ranged from poverty on the world's poorest continent, the HIV in the epicenter of the epidemic, and the all-night a cappella contests in South Africa, to Afro-pop stars in Nigeria and a trial of white mercenaries in Equatorial Guinea.

During this time, he covered the famines and wars of Africa, as well as the inspiring preachers and Nobel laureates. Beaubien was one of the first journalists to report on the huge exodus of people out of Sudan's Darfur region into Chad, as villagers fled some of the initial attacks by the Janjawid. He reported extensively on the steady deterioration of Zimbabwe and still has a collection of worthless Zimbabwean currency.

In 2006, Beaubien was awarded a Knight-Wallace fellowship at the University of Michigan to study the relationship between the developed and the developing world.

Beaubien grew up in Maine, started his radio career as an intern at NPR Member Station KQED in San Francisco and worked at WBUR in Boston before joining NPR.

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Shots - Health Blog
8:41 am
Tue July 24, 2012

HIV Testing Goes Mobile In Rural South Africa

A Doctors Without Borders counselor tests a South African woman for HIV.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Tue July 24, 2012 10:16 am

Across South Africa there's a push to get more people tested for HIV.

Nationwide, roughly 18 percent of adults are infected with the virus, but many of them don't know it. And that information gap enables the spread of HIV.

In a rural part of the province of KwaZulu-Natal, Doctors Without Borders is setting up mobile testing centers in tents. Teams are also going door to door offering HIV tests on the spot.

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AIDS: A Turning Point
5:09 am
Sun July 22, 2012

After Years Lost, South Africa Rejuvenates HIV Plan

Anti-AIDS posters hang in the Eshowe public health clinic in South Africa's Kwazulu-Natal province. Clinicians there are hoping to slow the spread of HIV by getting more people treatment.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Sun July 22, 2012 6:11 pm

With the largest HIV epidemic in the world, no nation has been more affected by HIV and AIDS than South Africa, but the country has also had one of the most conflicted responses to the epidemic.

A decade ago, as the virus was spreading rapidly, then-President Thabo Mbeki was questioning the link between HIV and AIDS. His health minister was advocating the use of beetroot, garlic and lemon juice to treat it.

Now, years later, South Africa is trying to make up for lost time. The nation is attempting to put in place a cutting-edge HIV treatment and prevention program.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:25 am
Fri July 20, 2012

Activists Fear Brazil's Triumph Over HIV Has Fizzled

Drag queens at an outdoor restaurant in Copacabana incorporate safe sex messages into a show of lip-synced songs and risque jokes.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Fri July 20, 2012 1:42 pm

Brazil's HIV/AIDS program — which has been praised as a model for developing nations — is now under strain.

When HIV first emerged in the 1980s, Brazil responded quickly to the epidemic. The South American country launched large-scale safe-sex drives and gave away millions of condoms. It offered free treatment to anyone who was infected. The Brazilian government took on international pharmaceutical companies and even broke patents to cut medication costs.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:24 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

South African Doctors Uneasy About HIV Prevention Pill

Longtime AIDS activist Dr. Ashraf Grimwood says South Africa has made huge strides in confronting HIV. But he worries that giving anti-retroviral drugs to healthy people could have negative consequences in the long term.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Thu July 19, 2012 8:54 pm

The news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week approved the use of Truvada, an AIDS drug, to prevent infections in people who are HIV-negative is being greeted with skepticism, derision and even worry by some doctors in South Africa.

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Shots - Health Blog
12:37 pm
Thu July 19, 2012

How HIV Treatment Can Curb The Spread Of AIDS

Anti-AIDS posters at the Eshowe public health clinic in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa. Clinicians there are hoping to slow the spread of HIV by getting more people treatment.
Jason Beaubien NPR

As the 19th International AIDS Conference prepares to open this weekend in Washington, one of the catch phrases swirling around the AIDS community is "treatment as prevention."

Researchers, clinicians and HIV policy experts are hailing treatment that helps prevent more infections as a possible way to end the pandemic.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:16 pm
Tue July 17, 2012

HIV Prevention Drug Truvada No Quick Fix For Brazil's Epidemic

Researchers with HIV medication at a public research lab at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, or Fiocruz, in Rio de Janeiro.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration gave the first green light on a drug to prevent HIV transmission.

Many experts say the drug will help hasten the end of the AIDS pandemic. But experts in Brazil say the drug alone isn't the answer.

One of the drug trials the FDA considered was done at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation Research Institute, also known as Fiocruz, in Rio de Janeiro.

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AIDS: A Turning Point
1:37 pm
Mon July 9, 2012

Teen Years Pose New Risks For Kids Born With HIV

A boy waits to get his anti-AIDS drugs from pharmacist Rajesh Chandra at the Botswana-Baylor Children's Clinical Center of Excellence in Gaborone.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Mon July 9, 2012 10:33 pm

The southern African nation of Botswana is grappling with a relatively new problem in the evolving AIDS pandemic: It now has a large group of HIV-positive adolescents.

The teenagers were infected at birth before Botswana managed to almost wipe out mother-to-child transmission of the virus. These children have survived because of a public health system that provides nearly universal access to powerful anti-AIDS drugs.

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AIDS: A Turning Point
2:04 am
Mon July 9, 2012

Botswana's 'Stunning Achievement' Against AIDS

Johane Setlhare began taking anti-AIDS drugs, provided by the government, in 2007. Two years later, he regained enough strength to build the house that's behind him.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 7:50 am

The southern African nation of Botswana has one of the highest rates of HIV in the world. Nearly 25 percent of all adults in the country are infected with the virus. Only the nearby kingdom of Swaziland has a higher rate.

But Botswana is also remarkable for its response to the epidemic. It has one of the most comprehensive and effective HIV treatment programs in Africa. Transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their fetuses and newborn babies has been brought down to just 4 percent.

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Health
2:18 am
Fri July 6, 2012

Kenya's HIV Challenge: Easing Stigma For Gay Men

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 8:20 pm

Health officials in Kenya say reducing the transmission of HIV among gay men is a central part of their national AIDS strategy. But they face serious challenges, including the fact that homosexuality is still a crime in the East African nation.

HIV rates among gay and bisexual men in Kenya are far higher than the national average.

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Health
2:09 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

An AIDS-Ravaged Nation Turns To Circumcision

Joseph Ochieng, 18, gets circumcised at the Siaya General Hospital in western Kenya.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 5:23 pm

The African nation of Kenya is attempting to get more than 1 million men between the ages of 15 and 49 circumcised by the end of 2013. If successful, this could be a groundbreaking effort in the fight to curb the spread of HIV.

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