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.
Global Health Conferences and Meetings
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.”
GlobalPost on Monday launched a new special reporting series called “AIDS: A Turning Point,” according to an email alert from the new service. “In the lead up to July’s International AIDS Conference in Washington — the first such conference on U.S. soil in 22 years — the world news site GlobalPost presents a deep look at both the global struggle to reduce HIV infection rates as well as some surprising lessons on the effective approaches that Southern Africa has to teach America,” the email alert reports (6/11).
“When stakeholders from across the world converge at Washington next month to participate in the International AIDS Conference (IAC) to share their experience and evaluations and to influence both popular and official perceptions and practices for curbing HIV/AIDS, India will host a parallel event for those who cannot make it there,” the Hindu reports. “The event will be organized in Kolkata by Durbar Mahila Samanway Samiti (DMSS) — an umbrella organization of over 65,000 sex workers of West Bengal in collaboration with the Global Network of Sex Work Project (NSWP),” the newspaper adds.
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog summarizes an event held Thursday, titled “AIDS-free Generation? Not Without Women,” that was sponsored by the National Council of Women’s Organizations. The session aimed “to draw attention to pivotal issues surrounding the impact of AIDS on women worldwide” ahead of the International AIDS Conference, the blog states. Speakers at the event included Katherine Fritz, global health director at the International Center for Research on Women, and Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health And Gender Equity (CHANGE), according to the blog, which notes “CHANGE recently released two reports on the implementation of the Global Health Initiative and reproduction health care in Guatemala and Ethiopia, concluding that GHI principles could be used to enhance services and conditions in both countries” (Barton, 6/22).
Elly Katabira, president of the International AIDS Society and co-chair of the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), said he will use the conference as an occasion to say “thank you” to the U.S., VOA News reports. “We want the world to know how we appreciate the contribution of the American people. We know that we haven’t been going to the U.S. for the last 22 years, but in spite of that [the] U.S. is still the leading contributor to the struggle against the epidemic,” Katabira said, according to the news service. The conference will be held in Washington, D.C., from July 22-27, VOA notes, adding, “The U.S. hadn’t hosted the conference in so long due to a travel ban on those who were HIV-positive.” Katabira said he will stress continued funding for efforts to fight the epidemic, increased awareness and involvement among young people, and decreased stigma and discrimination against men who have sex with men and transgendered persons, according to the news service (De Capua, 6/28).
This week’s issue of the Lancet “has an HIV theme ahead of the International AIDS Society meeting in Washington, D.C., … on July 22-27,” a Lancet editorial states, noting, “The issue of antiretrovirals for prevention, specifically pre-exposure prophylaxis, is presently under intense debate.” According to the editorial, “Two articles present further efforts to make treatment better and improve patients’ adherence,” and “[a] third article shows the benefits of antiretrovirals when given to either mothers or infants to prevent HIV transmission via breastfeeding” (6/29).