“[D]isappointingly, one group that will be absent [from the XIX International AIDS Conference next week] due to U.S. travel restrictions is sex workers,” a Lancet editorial states. “Sex workers have been extremely neglected as a population in the global response to HIV/AIDS, despite their substantially heightened risk of HIV infection and propensity to transmit new infections into general populations,” the editorial continues, adding, “Yet global funding allocations have been inadequate or restricted policies have been applied, such as the U.S. anti-prostitution pledge, which has greatly limited research and the response to HIV in sex workers. Furthermore, the conflation of sex work with human trafficking, and the disregard of sex work as work, has meant that sex workers’ rights have not been properly recognized.”
Global Health Conferences and Meetings
“President Barack Obama has a standing invitation to speak at the [XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., next week], and he likely would be welcomed with loud cheers given his progressive HIV/AIDS policies,” journalist Jon Cohen writes in a Slate opinion piece. “But Obama apparently can’t carve out the time, which both runs the risk of angering a volatile community and squandering a historic opportunity,” he continues. Though some “U.S. government officials who have made presentations at the meeting … have weathered humiliating greetings, … Obama would face none of this hostility,” Cohen writes, noting that the U.S. “today spends more money on HIV/AIDS research than all countries combined and also is the single most generous donor to the global effort to combat the disease.”
In this webcast from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and the Black AIDS Institute, “[e]xperts and leading voices in the [HIV/AIDS] field discuss their expectations of the [AIDS 2012] conference in the areas of treatment, prevention, advocacy and the epidemic in the U.S.,” according to the foundation’s webpage (7/19). In this “Washington Notebook” podcast from the foundation, Jackie Judd, vice president and executive producer of multimedia at KFF, interviews Science Magazine reporter Jon Cohen in the first of a series of interviews highlighting notable developments from the conference (7/20).
“Ahead of the International AIDS Conference next week in Washington, D.C., Martin Bloem, chief of Nutrition and HIV Policy at the World Food Programme, shares the impact of food and nutrition on the HIV response,” in this post in the ONE Blog. “Scientific evidence and our own experience shows that nutrition activities for people living with HIV — including nutritional assessments, counseling, education and fortified food for malnourished patients — has significant impacts on the health of patients, on their ability to stay on treatment and on the effectiveness of treatment,” he writes (7/19).
“Urban America continues to suffer high rates of HIV despite successes of antiretroviral treatment that can suppress the virus, decrease transmission, prevent progression to AIDS, and lower death rates,” Gregory Pappas, senior deputy director of the Washington, D.C., Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA), writes in a Washington Blade opinion piece. “The global U.S. response known as the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) succeeded by enhancing funding, coordinating government efforts and working across jurisdictions,” he states, adding, “A domestic PEPFAR would emphasize enhanced spending, promote regional data, and plan and coordinate services regionally.”
Noting that Washington, D.C., has an adult HIV prevalence rate higher than some southern African countries that receive PEPFAR funding, GlobalPost writes that the International AIDS Conference, to be held in the U.S. for the first time in 22 years starting Sunday, has highlighted “that America is nowhere close to an AIDS-free generation at home.” The news service continues, “Attendees hope AIDS 2012 will help set the agenda, both globally and domestically, as leaders, activists, and advocates from around the world discuss the achievements made and the goals ahead.” GlobalPost notes that it co-produced a segment examining the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic with PBS NewsHour that aired on Thursday (Judem, 7/19).
The International AIDS Society (IAS) on Thursday in Washington, D.C., “released what they call a road map for research toward a cure for HIV — a strategy for global teams of scientists to explore a number of intriguing leads that just might, years from now, pan out,” the Associated Press reports (Neergaard, 7/20). “The … scientific strategy focuses efforts on key areas such as the reservoirs where human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) holes up in the body, and the small number of people worldwide who seem to have some natural resistance,” Agence France-Presse writes (Sheridan, 7/19). “The new strategy outlines seven main priorities for research straddling basic, translational, and clinical science if either a ‘sterilizing cure,’ which permanently removes the virus, or a ‘functional cure,’ which controls it for years without drugs, is to be found,” the Lancet notes (Corbyn, 7/20).
Ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference next week, UNAIDS on Wednesday launched a new report, titled “Together we will end AIDS” (.pdf), “that shows that a record eight million people are now receiving antiretroviral therapy [ARVs], and that domestic funding for HIV has exceeded global investments,” the U.N. News Centre reports (7/18). “In all low- and middle-income countries, the availability of antiretroviral drugs grew by more than 20 percent in just one year, compared to the latest figure of 6.6 million people covered in 2010, said the report,” Agence France-Presse writes (Sheridan, 7/19). “At that rate, the world should meet a U.N. goal of having 15 million people [in low- and middle-income countries] on treatment by 2015, the report found,” the Associated Press adds (Neergaard, 7/18). “Fewer people infected with HIV globally are dying as more of them get access to” ARVs, “particularly in sub-Saharan Africa,” Reuters notes (Beasley/Miles, 7/18). AIDS-related deaths “dropped 5.6 percent to 1.7 million in 2011 from the previous year,” Bloomberg writes, adding that deaths “peaked in 2005 and 2006 at 2.3 million and have been going down since then, according to the report” (Pettypiec/Langreth, 7/18).
Scientists Plan To Announce Research Strategy Aimed At Pursuing HIV/AIDS Cure, Wall Street Journal Reports
On July 19, ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., “prominent AIDS scientists plan to announce the first comprehensive research strategy aimed at pursuing new leads and addressing hurdles to a cure” for HIV/AIDS, the Wall Street Journal reports. “The announcement of the initiative will be followed by a two-day symposium on cure research,” the newspaper continues, noting, “Recent research has offered a glimpse of paths to a cure. That promise, together with breakthroughs in preventing transmission of the disease, is spurring optimism that the epidemic, which kills about 1.7 million people a year, can eventually be brought under control.” The newspaper highlights several cases and studies on prevention and treatment (McKay/Winslow, 7/18). The Associated Press/Washington Post features a video examining some of the research (Bradley, 7/19).
In this post in the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of CSIS and director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, reflects on the upcoming International AIDS Conference, which opens in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, writing, “It is a choice opportunity in the midst of our bitter electoral season to tell the good news of the extraordinary achievements, at home and abroad, in both science and delivery of effective treatment, care, and prevention to people living with HIV or at risk of infection.” Morrison highlights the organization’s new AIDS 2012 course on iTunes U, noting readers can subscribe for additional updates on the conference (7/18). In a separate post, Julia Nagel, a web and social media associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, provides a guide to the course (7/18).