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Political, Economic Tensions In Malawi Threaten New HIV/AIDS Strategy

In a guest post on the GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Janet Fleischman, a senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, describes the Malawian government’s “plans to launch a ‘test and treat’ program in which all HIV-infected pregnant women will immediately be put on antiretroviral treatment (ART) drugs for life.” But she adds that “[t]he growing political and economic crisis in Malawi, highlighted by the government’s use of force against peaceful demonstrators last week, could also imperil the groundbreaking expansion of Malawi’s national HIV/AIDS program.”

New York Times Examines Maternal Mortality In Uganda

“Half of the 340,000 deaths of women from pregnancy-related causes each year occur in Africa, almost all in anonymity,” the New York Times writes in an article profiling several cases of women who have died during childbirth in Ugandan hospitals.

World Must Scale Up AIDS Fight, Even As Donors Scale Back

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece that “amid all the good news” about HIV prevention recently presented at the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, “one stubborn fact was hard to ignore: AIDS remains a metaphor for inequality.” With discrepancies in access to HIV treatment and prevention between developed and developing countries, “[i]t is hard not to conclude from all this that life is not valued equally across the world. This is morally wrong and unacceptable,” he writes.

Scientific American Presents Slide Show On MTCT Prevention

UNICEF’s goal of eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015 is “ambitious … but not impossible,” Scientific American reports. The magazine presents a slide show that “explores what is needed to stop mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015, following Inonge Siamalambo and her baby Elson of Lusaka, Zambia, through their 18-month commitment to a transmission prevention program” (Diep, 7/13).

UNAIDS’ Sidibe Calls For Increased Access To HIV Drugs At IAS Conference Opening

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe on Sunday at the opening of the 6th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Rome “called … for an increase in access to drugs that help treat or prevent the spread of the disease, saying it is ‘morally wrong’ to keep millions of people off lifesaving medication,” the Associated Press/Boston Globe reports (7/18).

Medicines Patent Pool Can Help Many But Has Potential Limitations For AIDS Drug Access In Middle-Income Countries

In a post on the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog, author and journalist Tina Rosenberg writes about the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) and describes how it can help purchase AIDS drugs for “vast numbers of people.” She also notes “its most serious potential weakness” – that drug companies join because they hope that giving earlier drug access to more countries will reduce pressure for access in middle-income countries. Rosenberg highlights a recent agreement with Gilead Sciences, which “only covers very poor countries. It leaves out Egypt, China, Brazil, plus dozens of other developing countries. Current AIDS drug prices in these countries are six or seven times the price of drugs in sub-Saharan Africa. Without help from the patent pool, these countries have little hope of expanding antiretroviral coverage” (7/21).

Philippines Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Implementation Of Reproductive Health Law

“The Philippines Supreme Court temporarily halted the implementation of a law that provides state funding for contraceptives, legislation opposed by the dominant Roman Catholic Church but supported by reproductive health activists,” the Associated Press reports, adding, “The Responsible Parenthood Law was passed by lawmakers late last year despite the church’s…

Indonesia To Issue Compulsory Licenses For HIV, Hepatitis B Drugs Still Under Patent

“The Indonesian government hopes to implement one of the largest ever examples of ‘compulsory licensing,’ which will enable the generic manufacture of drugs still under patent,” IRIN reports. “Under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), countries can override patents for public health purposes by…

Integration Of TB/HIV Services Necessary To Beat ‘Twin Epidemics’

Swaziland “is struggling to overcome twin epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis (TB),” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé writes in the Huffington Post “Healthy Living” blog. “Here in Swaziland, more than three-quarters of TB patients are also living with HIV, and TB is the leading cause of death among people with…