“If a Republican becomes president, … say goodbye to international programs providing birth control to women in desperately poor countries such as Liberia,” senior contributing writer Michelle Goldberg writes in this Daily Beast opinion piece. Goldberg notes that birth control has become a “significant issue in the U.S. presidential campaign,” writing, “All of the Republican candidates have slammed the administration’s refusal to give religious institutions a broad exemption from the mandate that insurance cover family planning.”
Access to Health Services
“Malaria is killing more people worldwide than previously thought, but the number of deaths has fallen rapidly as efforts to combat the disease have ramped up, according to new research from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington” published in the Lancet on Thursday, an IHME press release reports. “More than 1.2 million people died from malaria worldwide in 2010, nearly twice the number found in the most recent comprehensive study of the disease,” the press release states (2/2). The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “used new data and new computer modeling to build a historical database for malaria between 1980 and 2010,” BBC News notes (Bowdler, 2/2).
“The lives of thousands of HIV-positive people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are at risk as the country faces declining donor funding and a severe shortage of HIV treatment, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF),” PlusNews reports. “‘The problem is quite old in the DRC; the country has always been minimized by donors who have not seen it as a priority, mainly because HIV prevalence is relatively low at between three and four percent,’ Thierry Dethier, advocacy manager for MSF Belgium in the DRC, told IRIN/PlusNews,” and he added, “But look at the indicators: more than one million people are living with HIV, 350,000 of whom qualify for [antiretrovirals (ARVs)] but only 44,000 — or 15 percent — are on ARVs,” the news service writes.
Kenya has sufficient funds to support HIV/AIDS treatment programs through 2016, the head of the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) said in a statement on Wednesday after activists protested on Monday in support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Star reports. The Global Fund had to cancel Round 11 grants because “the cash at hand was not in the bank by the time we wanted to disburse,” according to the Fund’s Deputy Executive Director Debrework Zewdie, a move that sparked fears there would not be sufficient funding to pay for existing treatment programs, the Star notes (Muchangi, 2/2). In his statement, NACC head Alloys Orago said, “Though the available fund cushions beneficiaries from immediate effects of donor withdrawal up to 2016, such a move calls for home grown and innovative ways of locally financing the disease,” according to the Daily Nation (2/2).
NewsOne examines HIV in the Caribbean, where one percent of the population is infected with the virus, “small in comparison to numbers found in the global scheme but significant enough to distinguish it as the second-highest region with HIV/AIDS outside of sub-Saharan Africa.” According to the article, HIV is spread primarily among populations at high risk for the disease, including sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who use injection drugs.
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Ed Scholl, AIDSTAR-One project director, writes about HIV and tuberculosis (TB) care in Brazil, where “USAID has partnered with the Brazilian Ministry of Health to improve early TB detection, increase HIV counseling and testing, and provide medical treatment for both infections.” He continues, “AIDSTAR-One, a USAID-funded project, is also conducting outreach in Brazilian prisons, which are often at high risk of TB and HIV epidemics.” He concludes, “Through partnerships like USAID and AIDSTAR-One, we can effectively fight TB and HIV across Brazil and Latin America, to improve the health of countless people and ultimately save lives” (2/7).
While a focus on HIV prevention and treatment among women and children has reduced infection rates among these populations, “men have received considerably less attention in the epidemic and receive less targeted HIV prevention and treatment programs,” Edward Mills of the University of Ottawa and colleagues write in a PLoS Medicine essay, adding “Targeting men in prevention and treatment … may have a large impact on mortality, new infections, and the economic impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa.” They note that in Africa, fewer men than women access antiretroviral therapy (ART), and men “typically have higher mortality,” seek care later in the disease, and “are more likely to be lost to follow-up.”
“An expanding network of eye clinics has found an innovative way of providing quality, affordable treatment to millions of blind and visually impaired poor people in India,” the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters” blog reports. The LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), a not-for-profit organization that runs a chain of 82 eye care centers and a research institute in India, uses tiered pricing to charge wealthier patients for treatment, allowing the group to provide free treatment to poorer patients.
“Cash-strapped Swaziland is struggling to fund its HIV programs, and experts are warning of long-term damage to treatment and prevention schemes if steps are not taken to ring-fence funding and supplies,” the Mail & Guardian reports. About 200,000 people are living with HIV in Swaziland, nearly one quarter of the population, the newspaper notes, adding, “Until now the government has done well in terms of providing antiretroviral (ARV) treatment — achieving 78 percent coverage, just under the World Health Organization’s ‘universal coverage’ rate of 80 percent. But there are fears that uncertainty about funding streams and weak supply-chain management could result in a reversal of this progress.” The article discusses funding from the government, PEPFAR, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; antiretroviral drug and testing supply problems; and the epidemic’s effect on children and life expectancy in the country (Redvers, 2/27).
In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Living” blog, Mannasseh Phiri, PSI’s country representative in Zambia, examines HIV/AIDS in Zambian prisons. Phiri reports the findings of a survey recently conducted by the IN BUT FREE (IBF) Prisons Project “to determine the extent and magnitude of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Zambia’s prisons.” He concludes, “The high prevalence of HIV in our prisons cannot and should not be ignored. We cannot hope to be able to tackle our HIV epidemic in Zambian society outside of the prisons, unless we face up to the reality of the HIV epidemic inside the prisons” (2/24).