Noting “[a]pproximately 17 million women worldwide are currently living with HIV, with more than a million new infections in women of reproductive age each year,” Suzanne Ehlers, president and CEO of Population Action International (PAI), and Charles Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), write in this guest post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog that “family planning and HIV are inextricably linked, especially for HIV-positive women who are pregnant or may become pregnant.” They continue, “And while addressing unmet family planning needs is essential for all women, family planning services are particularly critical for HIV-positive women who want to postpone pregnancy due to HIV-related illness, or want to access medicines and services that will allow them to give birth to an HIV-negative child” (Barton, 7/24).
Global Health Conferences and Meetings
RECENT RELEASE: Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Report Comparing AIDS Responses Of U.S., Other High-Income Countries
The Kaiser Family Foundation on Tuesday released a report titled, “Responding to AIDS at Home & Abroad: How the U.S. and Other High Income Countries Compare,” (.pdf) which “examines the United States’ response to HIV over the last 30 years compared to … seven other similarly situated nations — Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom,” according to the report’s webpage. “Key areas examined include governance of the national responses, the roles of affected communities and non-governmental actors, policies relating to HIV testing, prevention, care and treatment, and stigma and discrimination,” the webpage states (7/24).
In 2010, after allegations of fraud among some fund recipients in several countries, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria convened “an independent, high-level panel to review its financial controls and how grant money is spent,” and the Fund “is now implementing the panel’s recommendations,” PlusNews reports. At the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), the news service interviewed Mark Eldon-Edington, the Global Fund’s director of country programs, “to find out what the changes in the grant-making process will mean for beneficiaries.” Eldon-Edington discusses the reasons for focusing on grant-making reform, what changes have already been made, and how the changes will affect countries in future grant rounds, among other issues (7/24).
“Much still needs to be done to get treatment to those who need it and to meet the UNAIDS-endorsed goal to achieve universal access by 2015, according to a new survey [.pdf] examining 25 HIV indicators assessing strategies, tools and policies to get the best HIV treatment to more people, sooner,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Mazzotta, 7/24). The report by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), in collaboration with UNAIDS, “show[s] that governments have made improvements to get better antiretroviral treatment (ART) to more people, but implementation of innovative community-based strategies is lagging in some countries,” according to an MSF press release (7/24).
WEBCAST: Kaiser Family Foundation Interviews Science's Jon Cohen Regarding New Approach To AIDS Financing
“Science magazine reporter Jon Cohen speaks with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Jackie Judd about a call Tuesday for a new approach to financing the global battle against the HIV/AIDS epidemic” in a “Washington Notebook” interview on the foundation’s website, PBS NewsHour reports. “[T]here are many, many countries that are going to be moving out of low-income status into middle-income status and that’s going to put pressure on them from the donors to do more and more,” Cohen says, adding “many poor countries signed on to a declaration that they would pay 15 percent of their health care needs and many have not done it,” according to the interview transcript (7/23).
Vienna Declaration Launches Ad Campaign Calling On U.S. Presidential Candidates To End 'War On Drugs'
As delegates gathered for the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) this week in Washington, D.C., “supporters of the 2010 Vienna Declaration, which urges governments to write evidence-based drug policies,” launched an ad campaign (.pdf) calling on U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney “to stop the spread of AIDS by ending the so-called ‘war on drugs,’” the Globe and Mail reports. British businessman Richard Branson; former president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso; former president of Colombia Cesar Gaviria; Michel Kazatchkine, former executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Evan Wood, chair of the Vienna Declaration Writing Committee; and Julio Montaner, director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, among others, have endorsed the declaration and the ad, which states, “You can’t end AIDS unless you end the war on drugs. It’s dead simple,” according to the newspaper (Drews, 7/23).
Noting that President Barack Obama’s “only presence [at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012)] is a 50-second cameo in a three-minute video welcoming delegates,” Bloomberg reports that his “absence … has activists talking.” The news service discusses Obama’s campaign schedule, interviews advocates about his decision, and talks to policy experts regarding U.S. global AIDS funding. “Administration officials defended the president’s priorities and his attention to the issue,” Bloomberg writes, adding, “Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for Obama’s National Security Council, said in an e-mail that ‘the most important metric for PEPFAR is lives saved, not dollars spent, and through smart investments we are delivering results’” (Brower, 7/25).
The Devex “Development Newswire” blog provides a comprehensive round-up of sessions, events, and reports from the third day (July 24) of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., including a summary of a session that discussed how Brazil, South Africa, India, and China contribute to the global AIDS response (Mungcal, 7/24).
As participants convene this week in Washington, D.C., for the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), “it is impossible to ignore an inconvenient truth: that drug war politics and policies in the United States and many other countries are severely jeopardizing the overall ‘fight against AIDS,’” Mathilde Krim, founding chair of amfAR and a member of the board of the Drug Policy Alliance, and Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, write in the Huffington Post’s “Politics Blog.” They continue, “Too many countries in the world have let their repressive and punitive drug policies get in the way of the public’s health. … The spread of HIV will not be stopped as long as drug use remains criminalized and as long as people who inject drugs are given up for lost” (7/24).
Noting successes with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and PEPFAR, as well as other domestic and international programs, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) writes in a Politico opinion piece, “But this is not enough.” He continues, “The Obama administration has the opportunity to push for policies that can offer developing nations more access to generic ARV therapies,” including supporting intellectual property rules under the Trans-Pacific Partnership “that would help speed up — not impede — generic drug competition in countries like Vietnam.” Waxman adds, “We should also back efforts to give developing countries more flexibility in interpreting the World Trade Organization’s patent rules for medicines,” and the administration “should … promote the Medicines Patent Pool, a bold initiative to bring down prices of HIV medicines by encouraging pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily license their patents and allow generic manufacturers to sell in developing countries.” Waxman concludes that the U.S. should be proud of its leadership on HIV/AIDS, “[b]ut our work is far from done. Supporting reliable access to generic medicines in the developing world is a much-needed step in getting us there” (7/24).