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Efforts To Fight Illegal Drugs Contributing To Spread Of HIV, Report Says

The Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP) on Tuesday published a report (.pdf) titled “The War on Drugs and HIV/AIDS: How the Criminalization of Drug Use Fuels the Global Pandemic,” which “condemns the drug war as a failure and recommends immediate, major reforms of the global drug prohibition regime to halt the spread of HIV infection and other drug war harms,” according to the report summary (6/26). In the report, the GCDP “urged the U.N. to ‘acknowledge and address the causal links between the war on drugs and the spread of HIV/AIDS and drug market violence,'” Agence France-Presse/Straits Times reports (6/26). “It also wants the United Nations groups to push national governments to stop arresting and imprisoning people who use drugs but do no harm to others,” Canada’s CTV News writes, adding, “Instead, government should focus on evidence-based drug-reduction interventions, such as safe injection sites and prescription heroin programs” (6/26).

International AIDS Society, Kaiser Family Foundation Partner To Offer Free Comprehensive Daily Coverage Of AIDS 2012

“The International AIDS Society (IAS), custodian of the International AIDS Conference, and the Kaiser Family Foundation will provide free, worldwide online access to the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) taking place in Washington, D.C.,” from July 22 to 27, a joint Kaiser/IAS press release reports. The partners will provide more than 50 online webcasts of conference sessions and press conferences, podcasts in both English and Spanish, and live webcasts of the Opening and Closing Sessions, the press release notes. Kaiser’s Daily Global Health Policy Report “will be enhanced during the week of the conference,” and a widget for sharing content is available for organizations and individuals to download onto their websites, blogs or social networking pages, according to the press release. A full list of webcast sessions (subject to change) is available at http://aids2012.org/, and Kaiser’s AIDS 2012 conference coverage will be available online through the Foundation’s Global Health Gateway, http://globalhealth.kff.org (6/27).

GlobalPost Blog Series Examines PMTCT Program In South Africa

In the third of a series of entries in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, titled “A Daughter’s Journey,” Tracy Jarrett, a GlobalPost/Kaiser Family Foundation global health reporting fellow, visits a USAID-funded HIV clinic at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. The clinic’s Perinatal HIV/AIDS Research Unit (PHRU) focuses on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) with funding from USAID and PEPFAR, she states, noting that the “clinic has been a game changer for mothers in Soweto [township] and an example for other PMTCT clinics throughout South Africa” (6/21). Jarrett, whose mother died of AIDS-related complications, is traveling “from Chicago to New York to South Africa to report on what is being done to keep babies and their mothers alive, to fight against stigma and to help those infected while reporting on what is still left to do to achieve an ‘AIDS-free generation,'” according to the first post in her series (6/15). The second post also is available online (6/19).

Zimbabwean Lawmakers Take Public HIV Tests In Campaign To Fight Stigma

“Zimbabwean lawmakers started taking public HIV tests on Wednesday in a campaign seeking to raise awareness and fight the stigma associated with AIDS,” VOA News reports, adding, “At least 60 parliamentarians from across the political divide will have tested when the three-day program, which is also offering counseling services, ends Friday.” According to the news service, “The Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against HIV/AIDS, a voluntary organization formed early this year to promote awareness and fight stigma in communities, is leading the campaign” (Gumbo/Gonda, 6/21).

No Definitive Link Between Hormonal Contraceptives And Increased Link Of HIV Infection Among Women, CDC Says

“There is no clear link between the use of contraceptives such as the birth control pill or Depo-Provera shots and an increased risk that a woman will contract HIV, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday,” Reuters reports, noting that the WHO came to the same conclusion in February. Following a review of recent studies suggesting women taking hormonal contraceptives might be at an increased risk of HIV infection, “the Atlanta-based CDC said, ‘the evidence does not suggest’ a link between oral contraceptives such as the birth control pill and increased HIV risk,” the news agency writes. CDC officials said though the evidence for injectable contraceptives is inconclusive, they too are safe, according to Reuters. “Women at risk for HIV infection or who already have the virus ‘can continue to use all hormonal contraceptive methods without restriction,’ the CDC said,” the news agency writes. However, “the CDC also said it was ‘strongly’ encouraging the use of condoms as a precaution against the virus that causes AIDS,” Reuters notes (Beasley, 6/21).

AIDS.gov Blog Republishes Post In Which U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Discusses AIDS 2012 Conference

In an effort to “raise awareness around the U.S. global response to HIV/AIDS,” the AIDS.gov blog has republished a post by U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby in which he discusses the XIX International AIDS Conference, taking place in the U.S. for the first time in more than 20 years from July 22-27. He notes, “The conference theme, Turning the Tide Together, underscores the pivotal moment in which AIDS 2012 is taking place,” and discusses the role that the U.S. has played in achieving scientific progress in the fight against AIDS since it was identified 30 years ago (6/21).

GlobalPost Launches New Special Reporting Series On Fight Against AIDS

GlobalPost on Monday launched a new special reporting series called “AIDS: A Turning Point,” according to an email alert from the new service. “In the lead up to July’s International AIDS Conference in Washington — the first such conference on U.S. soil in 22 years — the world news site GlobalPost presents a deep look at both the global struggle to reduce HIV infection rates as well as some surprising lessons on the effective approaches that Southern Africa has to teach America,” the email alert reports (6/11).

New Data On Individuals With Natural Ability To Fight Off AIDS

“Scientists on Sunday said they had found a key piece in the puzzle as to why a tiny minority of individuals infected with HIV have a natural ability to fight off the deadly AIDS virus,” Agence France-Presse reports. “In a study they said holds promise for an HIV vaccine, researchers from four countries reported the secret lies not in the number of infection-killing cells a person has, but in how well they work,” AFP writes. “Only about one person in 300 has the ability to control the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) without drugs” the news service notes (6/10).

UNAIDS Governing Body Calls For Range Of Recommendations To Strengthen Global HIV Response

“The Programme Coordinating Board — governing body of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) — concluded its 30th session on 7 June calling for a range of recommendations to strengthen the global HIV response,” a UNAIDS press release reports. “During the three-day deliberations, the Board received progress reports on…

India To Host Parallel Conference For Those Who Can't Attend International AIDS Conference In U.S.

“When stakeholders from across the world converge at Washington next month to participate in the International AIDS Conference (IAC) to share their experience and evaluations and to influence both popular and official perceptions and practices for curbing HIV/AIDS, India will host a parallel event for those who cannot make it there,” the Hindu reports. “The event will be organized in Kolkata by Durbar Mahila Samanway Samiti (DMSS) — an umbrella organization of over 65,000 sex workers of West Bengal in collaboration with the Global Network of Sex Work Project (NSWP),” the newspaper adds.