In this post in BMJ’s “Yankee Doodling,” Douglas Kamerow, chief scientist at RTI International and an associate editor for the journal, reflects on the possibility of achieving an AIDS-free generation “if somehow we succeeded in getting all HIV positive people in the world identified and under long term treatment.” He writes that while there has been “astonishing progress against AIDS,” “two concerns immediately arise: the magnitude of the work remaining to find and continuously treat all those infected, and the confusion between that treatment (even if it is somehow universally successful) and actual eradication of the disease.” He concludes, “It is a rosy scenario, but even if it came true it still would not spell the end of the HIV story,” because “[w]e have no vaccine, and the virus keeps mutating” (8/14).
Global Health Conferences and Meetings
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines how the “U.S. travel bans on people involved in sex work and people who have used illegal drugs … kept many of the people at highest risk from coming to the [XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012)]” in Washington, D.C., last month. “The result, observers said afterward, was a larger conference with fewer sex workers than had brought their first-hand experiences and concerns to Vienna and Mexico City,” according to the blog. Carlos Laudari, senior technical adviser for HIV AIDS prevention at Pathfinder, “and others said those in absentia were not the only ones disempowered; the loss of sex worker and drug user input on how to realize the goals of treatment as prevention, on barriers to funding, testing, health care access, and for that matter, on the difference between sex work and sex trafficking — commonly, and erroneously equated — weakened the dialogue and the action they were intended to inform,” the blog writes and quotes several other advocates (Barton, 8/8).
In this post in Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” blog, John-Manuel Andriote, a journalist and author living with HIV, writes, “For all of us living with HIV infection — Oct. 27 will mark seven years since my own diagnosis — the question we face daily, hopefully more consciously and deliberately than most, is how shall we live, knowing as we do that we will most assuredly die one day?” Reflecting on the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) that took place in Washington last month, he continues, “An AIDS-free generation is certainly a worthy goal,” but “even if tens of billions of additional dollars are allocated to address HIV/AIDS, even if the Republicans don’t succeed in inflicting their Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ upon the nation and the world, the question will continue to be what it has been for 31 years … Will we have the political will to end AIDS?”
The U.S. has “been working toward integrating HIV, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence services for women overseas,” and “[i]t’s time we did the same at home,” Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, writes in this Huffington Post “Impact” blog post. With the AIDS 2012 conference being held in Washington, D.C., this year, “[t]he administration has already stated it will take lessons learned from global AIDS programs to enhance our programs in the U.S.,” she continues.
In this post in the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, Katherine Bliss, deputy director and senior fellow at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, discusses a report — titled, “The International AIDS Conference Returns to the United States” — that “examines the political history of the international AIDS conferences from 1985 to the present.” She writes, “The report finds that the most significant conferences from participants’ point of view have featured either major scientific breakthroughs, such as the 1996 Vancouver meeting, or substantial sociopolitical breakthroughs, as in Durban in 2000, when unprecedented civil society engagement helped generate momentum for the development of an international consensus to institute and scale up treatment for HIV-infected populations in resource-limited settings” (3/29).
In anticipation of the AIDS 2012 conference, to be held in Washington, D.C., from July 22-27, CDC Director Thomas Frieden spoke at the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies, where he provided an update on the epidemic in the U.S. and abroad, VOA News reports. Frieden provided statistics on HIV infection and death rates; recounted “trying to treat hundreds of patients in the early days of the epidemic,” before treatment was available; and said that “around the world, … HIV/AIDS remains the biggest infectious disease challenge more than 30 years into the epidemic,” the news service writes.
“For the first time in over 20 years, the biennial International AIDS Conference will be hosted on American soil,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in this post in the AIDS.gov blog. “From July 22 to 27, AIDS 2012 will convene scientists, health professionals, policymakers and those affected by AIDS in Washington, D.C., to assess progress to date and identify next steps in the global response,” he writes. He notes, “The conference theme, Turning the Tide Together, underscores the pivotal moment in which AIDS 2012 is taking place,” and discusses the role that the U.S. has played in achieving scientific progress in the fight against AIDS since it was identified 30 years ago (3/15).
In the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, notes that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the XIX International AIDS Conference in July that all women should be able to decide “when and whether to have children” and that PEPFAR, in a guidance [.pdf] released last week, said, “Voluntary family planning should be part of comprehensive quality care for persons living with HIV,” and referred to family planning as a human right. “Then, in bold type, they punctuated it with, ‘PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities,'” she writes. “They take it a step further with a caveat that before anyone decides they’d like their program to have anything to do with family planning, they had best consult relevant U.S. legal counsel first,” she adds. “To be fair, they do say that PEPFAR programs can just refer women to a different program that offers family planning,” but those programs are not always available, Sippel writes, adding, “So the suggestion is flawed from the start.”
In this post in the Department of State’s “DipNote” blog, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby reflects on his speech at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday in anticipation of the AIDS 2012 conference scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. from July 22-27. Noting he discussed “some of the lessons learned from the first decade of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that can inform future efforts on AIDS and global health,” he writes, “The last 10 years have taught us what must be done to end this epidemic and achieve an AIDS-free generation, and I have great hope that we will get it done. This is the moment to seize this hope, and together we will turn the tide” (6/26).
International AIDS Society, Kaiser Family Foundation Partner To Offer Free Comprehensive Daily Coverage Of AIDS 2012
“The International AIDS Society (IAS), custodian of the International AIDS Conference, and the Kaiser Family Foundation will provide free, worldwide online access to the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) taking place in Washington, D.C.,” from July 22 to 27, a joint Kaiser/IAS press release reports. The partners will provide more than 50 online webcasts of conference sessions and press conferences, podcasts in both English and Spanish, and live webcasts of the Opening and Closing Sessions, the press release notes. Kaiser’s Daily Global Health Policy Report “will be enhanced during the week of the conference,” and a widget for sharing content is available for organizations and individuals to download onto their websites, blogs or social networking pages, according to the press release. A full list of webcast sessions (subject to change) is available at http://aids2012.org/, and Kaiser’s AIDS 2012 conference coverage will be available online through the Foundation’s Global Health Gateway, http://globalhealth.kff.org (6/27).