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AIDS 2012 Plenary Speakers Call For Expanded Efforts To Provide HIV Treatment, Prevention To Women, Children

AIDS experts speaking at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) on Wednesday called for an expansion of HIV care and treatment to all women instead of focusing only on those who are pregnant, the Associated Press reports. While many countries have programs to treat pregnant women with HIV infection with antiretroviral treatment (ART) to lessen the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission, UNICEF Senior Programme Adviser Chewe Luo said at the plenary session that most countries do not continue providing ART after mothers wean their infants, the news service notes, adding, “She praised Malawi for starting to do just that” through a treatment initiative called Plan B+ (Neergaard, 7/25). According to the Guardian, the plan would add an additional $300 million to global treatment costs, but “people with HIV on treatment become far less likely to infect their partners, as well as their babies, so the additional outlay may be considered a good investment.” Luo said discussions with PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria about funding such programs are underway, the newspaper notes (Boseley, 7/25). In a satellite session on Tuesday, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe “commended countries and their international partners for recent progress in preventing new HIV infections among children and saving mothers’ lives,” health-e news reports (7/25).

NPR Interviews First Lady Of Haiti About Country's Progress Against HIV

As delegates from around the world convene for the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), NPR correspondent Michel Martin “speaks to Haiti’s First Lady Sophia Martelly about the Caribbean island’s progress against the epidemic and challenges that persist” in this interview from NPR’s “Tell Me More.” “I think the first thing I really would like people — not even to do, but to remember that, as I said previously, we are moving forward,” she says, adding, “It’s not about HIV. It’s not about earthquake. We are real. We are beautiful and we are making tremendous progress,” according to the interview transcript (7/25).

NPR Examines Whether Goal Of Treating All HIV-Positive People With ARVs Is Feasible

Noting new guidelines released at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., this week “call for everybody with HIV to be started on antiretroviral drugs [ARVs] as soon as they test positive for the virus,” NPR’s “Shots” blog examines “whether the goal is achievable, and who would pay for this enormous expansion in treatment.” “Right now about eight million people across the world are getting treated for HIV at a cost of around $17 billion a year,” the blog writes, adding, “Universal treatment would cost another $22 billion, by some estimates.” The blog notes Bernhard Schwartlander, director for evidence, strategy and results at UNAIDS, in a plenary speech at the conference on Tuesday “offered up several possible ways to raise the money,” including a tax on shipping and aviation fuel (Knox, 7/26).

World Bank President, Global Fund GM Discuss AIDS Strategies In Separate Interviews

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).

RECENT RELEASE: News Coverage Of AIDS 2012

The NYU Development Research Institute blog features an AIDS 2012 “Conference Political Courage Meter” graphic, based on Google News hits on different search terms. The blog states, “Some approaches to AIDS involve technical fixes (vaccines, treatment drugs, condoms, circumcision) on which it is easy to get political consensus. Others require real political courage to address, such as behavior change, i.e. reducing the number of multiple sexual partners — ‘concurrent relationships’ — that spread the epidemic.” The chart “collects all Google News hits on these terms and shows the weight of each of them in news coverage on the AIDS conference,” according to the blog (Easterly, 7/24).

RECENT RELEASE: U.S. Census Bureau, State Department Release Data, Maps On Global HIV/AIDS

The U.S. Census Bureau on Monday launched an interactive global resource on the prevalence of HIV infection and AIDS cases and deaths, which contains 149,000 statistics, making it the “most complete of its kind in the world,” according to a Census Bureau press release. U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby said, “This release of the HIV/AIDS database will expand global access to data that are critical to understanding the epidemic. This information is invaluable for the evidence-based response PEPFAR is championing,” according to the press release (7/23). Also on Monday, the Humanitarian Information Unit in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research released two maps. The first (.pdf) depicts where PEPFAR supported HIV/AIDS programs in fiscal year 2011, and the second (.pdf) shows where PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria support HIV/AIDS programs throughout the world, according to an email announcement (7/23).

RECENT RELEASE: Congressional Briefing Looks To Maximize Resources For HIV/AIDS Response

A UNAIDS press release describes a Congressional bipartisan briefing that took place on Tuesday with the theme, “Together we will end AIDS.” Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) hosted the briefing, which aimed to “find ways of maximizing new opportunities to respond to HIV,” according to the press release. Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe, and Sir Elton John also attended the meeting, according to UNAIDS (7/24).

RECENT RELEASE: Blogs Discuss Advancements In HIV Preventative, Therapeutic R&D

In this post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog, IAVI President and CEO Margaret McGlynn, AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren and UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe highlight the release of a report from the HIV Vaccine & Microbicides Resource Tracking Working Group, which “documents 2011 research investments in preventive and therapeutic HIV vaccines, cure research, microbicide development, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and operations research to support implementation of such evidence-based interventions as the prevention of vertical transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision and the use of antiretroviral therapies for HIV prevention” (Barton, 7/23). In related news, in a post in USAID’s “Impact” blog, McGlynn writes about recent advances that have “fueled optimism and lent a new momentum to the field of HIV vaccine” research and development (R&D) (7/24).

RECENT RELEASE: HIV Epidemic, Family Planning 'Inextricably Linked'

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).