“[F]olks in Kansas City, Memphis, Selma, El Paso and all across America need to know that you are, indeed, keeping nearly six million men, women and children alive with your tax dollars,” Laurie Garrett, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in the Huffington Post “Impact” blog, adding, “Actually, the total is much larger than that, America, because six million is just the number of people that are every single day taking anti-HIV medicines that they receive through programs that you fund.” She notes that American tax money pays for HIV prevention campaigns worldwide and medical research on antiretroviral drugs, diagnostic tests and other advances. “Though other countries and private donors contribute to the prevention and treatment of AIDS, none can match the sheer scale of what America is doing,” Garrett writes, adding, “A mere $6.6 billion this fiscal year — out of a total U.S. budget of $3.8 trillion — is the cost of our modern day, life-giving packages.” She concludes, “That’s 0.16 percent of the federal budget, to save millions of lives. What a bargain” (7/20).
Global Health Conferences and Meetings
“Hundreds of sex workers from around the world who said they were denied visas to attend an international AIDS conference in the United States began their own meeting in Kolkata on Saturday in protest,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Some 550 representatives of sex workers from India and 41 other countries were attending the seven-day event in the eastern Indian city, organizers said,” the news agency writes (Sil, 7/21). The International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) “return[ed] to American soil for the first time in more than 20 years, in recognition of President Barack Obama’s 2009 decision to lift the U.S. travel ban on people living with HIV,” the Guardian states, noting that “U.S. legislation still prohibits sex workers and drug users from entering the country.”
Noting the 2010 reversal of the HIV travel and immigration ban allowing the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) to be held in the U.S. for the first time in more than 20 years, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) writes in a Huffington Post Blog opinion piece, “It is so exciting to host this conference at such a pivotal time in the history of the AIDS response,” and adds, “At no other time in history has our global leadership been more important than it is right now.” With nearly 25,000 people from about 200 countries expected to gather in Washington, D.C., for the conference July 22-27, “These leaders in the global HIV and AIDS fight will showcase their incredible efforts and achievements on our own soil” and “have the opportunity to develop new solutions in addressing the ongoing challenges posed by HIV/AIDS in our own country and around the world,” Lee writes.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) “has released an updated reporting manual on HIV/AIDS ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) taking place in Washington, D.C.,” this month, according to a KFF e-mail alert. “This reporting guide is designed for journalists who are covering the global epidemic for the first time and for those who have covered it previously,” it notes, adding, “The material in this special AIDS 2012 edition covers a broad range of subjects including the unique challenges of reporting on HIV/AIDS, treatment and prevention strategies and global efforts to finance the campaign against HIV/AIDS” (7/12).
“Activists are reigniting their attacks against President Obama’s record on battling AIDS ahead of the International AIDS Conference in Washington later this month,” The Hill’s “Global Affairs” blog reports. “Two weeks before the conference of 20,000 leading researchers, patients and advocates, the administration has yet to confirm Obama’s attendance,” the blog writes, noting “the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in a teleconference with reporters on Monday said Obama shouldn’t bother showing up unless he’s going to pledge a renewed commitment to the international fight against AIDS.” In 2009, Obama lifted a ban that prevented people living with HIV to enter the U.S., allowing the conference to be held in the country for the first time in 22 years, the blog notes.
The 2012 International AIDS Conference, which will take place in Washington, D.C., from July 22-27, “will highlight a sense of optimism among top HIV researchers about stemming the spread of the virus around the globe,” according to PRI’s “The World.” In an audio report, anchor Lisa Mullins “talks to Peter Piot, former executive director of UNAIDS, about the new optimism and his career as a virus hunter.”
WEBCAST: Kaiser Family Foundation Interviews Science's Jon Cohen Regarding New Research On HIV Treatment In East Africa
“Science Magazine’s Jon Cohen speaks with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Jackie Judd about preliminary science that may show why East Africans could be at a disadvantage when being treated for HIV infection,” in a “Washington Notebook” interview on the foundation’s webpage, PBS NewsHour reports. Cohen discusses two studies presented at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., this week (7/25).
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, in an interview with the Guardian, “said he was passionately committed to ending absolute poverty, which threatens survival and makes progress impossible for the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day,” the news service writes. According to the Guardian, Kim “is determined to eradicate global poverty through goals, targets and measuring success in the same way that he masterminded an AIDS drugs campaign for poor people nearly a decade ago,” and he “will set ‘a clear, simple goal’ in the eradication of absolute poverty” (Boseley, 7/25). In a related post in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Kim speaks to correspondent John Donnelly “about the Bank’s focus on eradicating poverty and fighting AIDS.” “Good health is always going to remain a part of a much larger agenda to move people out of poverty,” he says in the interview, adding, “The Bank’s focus has appropriately been on health systems” (7/24).
“Although circumcision’s effect on protection against HIV is clear — three studies have shown a 60 percent reduction in risk to men — as a public health strategy, it is fraught with caveats,” the Washington Post reports. Though uncertainty exists about the degree of protection the procedure provides, especially for specific groups such as men who have sex with men, and “[m]any ethnic groups have strong cultural traditions against the procedure,” “many AIDS researchers and advocates view it as a strategy that needs far more promotion since it provides some protection to men having sex with infected women,” according to the newspaper. The article includes a summary of data and studies on circumcision (Brown, 7/25).
“For the first time in many years, a new message is on the lips of the people on the frontlines [of the AIDS response] — together, we will end AIDS,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Living” blog. He notes, “Just a decade ago, this very thought would have been dismissed,” and asks, “What has changed? Where has this hope come from?” He writes, “It comes from the resilience and steadfastness of the global community, led by people living with HIV, grandmothers, sisters, brothers, mothers, doctors, nurses, scientists, activists to halt the AIDS epidemic from defining our lives.” He provides a recap of the global response, highlighting results, investments, scientific progress, and the protection of human rights, and continues, “Above all, it is people who have changed the face of the AIDS epidemic.” He concludes, “We can end AIDS. We will end AIDS” (7/25).