Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) on Wednesday at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., joined former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) for a panel discussion on bipartisanship “focusing on sustaining the engagement of the U.S. Congress in order to demonstrate and encourage continued U.S. leadership in the fight against global AIDS,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Mazzotta, 7/25). During the session, Rubio “expressed strong support for foreign aid, especially funding to combat HIV/AIDS,” and Lee “recounted with Frist the history of U.S. efforts to provide global funding,” CQ HealthBeat reports (Adams, 7/25). “‘We have to keep our eyes on the prize,’ and focus on moving forward and figuring out how to work together in a bipartisan way. It happened in the past, [Lee] said, and we can do it again,” “Science Speaks” writes (7/25). Coons “recommended the United States ‘double down’ on investments for AIDS,” in order to “‘innovate and cure our way out of this. That, I think, is in keeping with the optimism and the entrepreneurship of the American character,’ added Mr. Coons,” the Washington Times notes. The discussion was “punctuated by protesters with red umbrellas and signs calling for an end to the ‘criminalization’ of sex workers, drug addicts and other marginalized groups with AIDS,” the Washington Times writes (Wetzstein, 7/25).
Global Health Conferences and Meetings
On the sidelines of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), Georgetown University hosted a conference for faith-based organizations and leaders to come together to discuss their efforts to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Washington Post reports. Speaking at the conference, Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, “considered one of the country’s leading evangelicals on fighting AIDS, said he was willing to work with anyone ‘who wants to end AIDS,’ but blamed the government for trying to get traditional faith workers to what he called ‘change’ their anti-abortion views in order to partner,” according to the newspaper. “Multiple speakers agreed that Christian churches are indispensable in the AIDS fight,” the newspaper notes (Boorstein, 7/25). In a separate article, the Washington Post notes that Warren’s wife, Kay Warren, spoke at the conference on a panel of religious leaders from all over the globe who “discussed the evolution of faith-based organizations’ thinking on AIDS and HIV since the epidemic began” (Bahrampour, 7/24).
The following webcasts are now available at http://www.kff.org/AIDS2012.
In a post in KPLU’s “Humanosphere” blog, journalist Tom Paulson discusses the role of faith-based organizations in the response to HIV/AIDS, writing, “PEPFAR is mentioned in perhaps every other speech here at the International AIDS Conference, AIDS 2012, as one of those game-changers. Infrequently, some folks also mention, usually just in passing, something like the ‘contributions of the faith-based community.’ What’s probably not appreciated is that U.S. leadership in responding to the global AIDS pandemic came together thanks to an unusual partnership of evangelical Christians and very secular AIDS activists, isolationist conservatives and bleeding-heart liberals” (7/25).
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports on a session held on Tuesday at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., titled “Strategic Use of Resources: Doing the Right Things with the Right Money.” According to the blog, “Representatives of three countries and two donors described opportunities and challenges to making the most of scientific advances — and limited funds” in their responses to HIV/AIDS (Barton, 7/25).
“A new tax on financial transactions is set to launch in France in August, and could generate billions of dollars to help fund the global fight against HIV/AIDS,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “‘We want to create additional innovative financing instruments. This is the aim of the tax on financial transactions which my country has decided to implement from 1 August 2012,’ said French President Francois Hollande, who spoke via pre-recorded video message at the plenary session of the International AIDS Conference in Washington Monday,” the blog notes (Mazzotta, 7/25).
“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).
The AIDS.gov blog provides video footage of a conversation between Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Affairs at HHS, which took place at the XIX International AIDS Conference. According to the blog, Daulaire discusses his role at the department and some of his take away messages from AIDS 2012 (7/25).
ABC News’ “OTUS” blog features an interview with former first lady Laura Bush, who discusses the importance of foreign aid and how she and her husband, former President George W. Bush, “will be building off the success of [PEPFAR] and continuing to work to fight AIDS in Africa and worldwide,” including “help[ing] women in developing countries screen for cervical cancer” (Karl/Wolf, 7/25). Laura Bush is scheduled to speak at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) on Thursday, and a webcast of the session, “Leadership in the AIDS Response for Women,” will be available online from the Kaiser Family Foundation (7/26).
RECENT RELEASE: PEPFAR Announces $5M For 'Together For Girls' Partnership To Address Sexual Violence
“On July 25th at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby announced $5 million from the Presidentâ€™s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) for the Together for Girls partnership to address violence against girls and boys, with a particular focus on sexual violence against girls,” A U.S. Department of State media note states. “This funding will leverage existing PEPFAR platforms to help partner governments develop and strengthen their programmatic response to National Violence Against Children survey data,” according to the media note (7/25).