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Bethany Young Holt
Bethany Young Holt, co-founded and directs the Initiative for MPTs, a project of CAMI Health at the Public Health Institute in Oakland, CA. Inspired by women like Gelete, Bethany launched CAMI Health to help improve the health of women and girls worldwide, and to advance the development of MPTs – new comprehensive products for protection from STIs, like HIV, and unintended pregnancy.
The Initiative for MPTs (IMPT) is dedicated to advancing the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health of women and girls worldwide. The Secretariat staff, who manage this global learning network, comprise a group of women who have worked a combined eight decades in the women’s health and sexual and reproductive health fields. From working with underserved women in Mauritania and the Ivory Coast as Peace Corps volunteers, to HIV testing and counseling in Baltimore, to community organizing in San Francisco and Sacramento, to conducting ethnographic research in Newfoundland, to coordinating HIV prevention clinical trials in Cape Town, our team’s diverse experiences and skills have contributed to the strategic advancement of the MPT field.
In the early 1990’s, I met a young woman named Gelete. I was working as part of an HIV prevention team along the Sudanese border of Ethiopia, and Gelete was one of our team’s most committed local volunteers working to implement our condom distribution program. Growing up, she dreamed of becoming a physician and attending medical school—but, at age 16, she was raped by her teacher, became pregnant and was then ostracized and abandoned by her own family. With no support and a baby to feed, she moved to a small town to work on a coffee plantation. Since coffee bean harvesting is seasonal work with few other opportunities available in the off season, Gelete joined other young women in similar situations exchanging money for sex to survive.
This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms of Cooperative Agreement #AID-OAA-A-16-00045. The contents are the responsibility of the IMPT, CAMI Health, PHI, and its partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the U.S. Government.