“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.”
Global Health Conferences and Meetings
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).
“As Washington prepares to host the International AIDS Conference from July 22-27, PBS NewsHour will profile some of the parallel stories unfolding around the epidemic on opposite ends of the globe,” the news service writes. In the first of these stories, the news service profiles two individuals — John Johnson in Washington, D.C., and Alice Sibanda in Hwange, Zimbabwe — who as children lost their parents to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Noting Zimbabwe and Washington, D.C., are “8,000 miles apart and nearly as distant economically,” the news service writes, “Both have some of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the world” (Kane, 7/18).
“U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will address the opening plenary session at the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the Washington Convention Center, Session Room 1,” a U.S. Department of State press notice reports. “Secretary Clinton’s remarks will be streamed live at http://www.kff.org/aids2012,”; according to the notice, which goes on to list a number of additional State Department officials who will participate in the conference (7/17).
The Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS) has released three supplements to its most recent issue ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., next week. Supplement 1 contains a report to the NIH Office of AIDS Research by the HIV and Aging Working Group; Supplement 2 examines “seven essential steps toward an AIDS-free generation”; and Supplement 3 focuses on the vision, achievements and new direction of PEPFAR (August 2012).
USA Today examines several scientific breakthroughs that researchers say “could be key to reducing new HIV infections.” “Doctors are hopeful not because of a single discovery, but because of a string of breakthroughs over the past two or three years, says Diane Havlir, a professor at the University of California-San Francisco,” the news service writes. “The power comes from putting them together,” Havlir, who is also an AIDS 2012 co-chair, said, according to USA Today. The news service discusses “landmark findings” in the areas of treatment as prevention, adult male circumcision, microbicides, and vaccines, among others (Szabo, 7/18).