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Goosby Calls For ‘Extraordinary Resources’ To Be Put Into Male Circumcision To Prevent HIV Infection

Male circumcision is “a highly significant, lifetime intervention” to prevent HIV infection that deserves “extraordinary resources,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby on Monday told a meeting of 400 army officials from 80 countries in Africa, Eastern Europe and central Asia, Agence France-Presse reports. Studies have shown that male circumcision can significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection, the news agency notes, adding that the U.S. “is sponsoring programs in several African countries with a goal of circumcising four million men by 2013.”

U.N. Says Asia Pacific Region Making Strides Against HIV/AIDS, Must Address Social And Legal Barriers To Treatment, Prevention

The U.N. Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific (ESCAP) on Monday in Bangkok “opened a three-day meeting lauding impressive gains in recent years in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” but the body cautioned “there are still legal and social barriers that significantly set back eradication efforts,” VOA News reports. U.N. ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer “note[d] the gains are uneven and there are still gaps in the goal of universal access to HIV treatment,” the news service writes.

Action Needed To Reach Ambitious Targets Set Forth In President’s World AIDS Day Speech

President Barack Obama’s December 1 World AIDS Day speech “could be pivotal, but only if it is followed by changes in how we tackle global AIDS,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, writes in this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” opinion piece. “Obama signaled a renewed U.S. commitment to funding for global AIDS programs at a time when resources at home are constrained and other countries are backing away from the fight,” he writes, adding, “Now it’s time to plot a course for implementing the president’s vision.”

Debate Continues Over Needle/Syringe Exchange Programs

Matt Fisher, a research assistant at the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Global Health Policy Center, summarizes the ongoing debate in Congress over needle and syringe exchange programs (NSEPs) in this post on the SmartGlobalHealth.org blog. He presents a history of NSEPs and notes, “President Obama recently signed the FY12 omnibus spending bill that, among other things, reinstated the ban on the use of federal funds for needle and syringe exchange programs (NSEPs); this step reversed the 111th Congress’ 2009 decision to allow federal funds to be used for these programs.” He concludes that despite scientific evidence that NSEPs are an effective public health intervention, “ideological and moral opposition remains,” and therefore, “the issue of federal funding will continue to be actively debated” (2/6).

Supporting Scientific Evidence Under PEPFAR To End AIDS

On Wednesday, several HIV experts spoke at a Capitol Hill briefing “supporting the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program’s reliance on scientific evidence to drive its work to end AIDS,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. The speakers, including Diane Havlir of the University of California, San Francisco, RJ Simonds of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Renee Ridzon of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, talked about using antiretroviral treatment as a prevention method, the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision, and preventing HIV among marginalized populations at high risk of infection (Mazzotta, 2/3).

African Scientists’ Search For Female-Controlled Microbicide Gel To Prevent HIV Continues

AllAfrica.com examines efforts by African researchers to develop a female-controlled HIV prevention method, writing, “[S]cientists searching for a gel or vaccine that can prevent HIV infection ride a rollercoaster of hope and disappointment.” The article profiles efforts by researchers from the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (Caprisa) to find a microbicide gel to protect women from HIV infection.

DRC Facing Decline In Donor Funding, HIV Treatment Shortage

“The lives of thousands of HIV-positive people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are at risk as the country faces declining donor funding and a severe shortage of HIV treatment, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF),” PlusNews reports. “‘The problem is quite old in the DRC; the country has always been minimized by donors who have not seen it as a priority, mainly because HIV prevalence is relatively low at between three and four percent,’ Thierry Dethier, advocacy manager for MSF Belgium in the DRC, told IRIN/PlusNews,” and he added, “But look at the indicators: more than one million people are living with HIV, 350,000 of whom qualify for [antiretrovirals (ARVs)] but only 44,000 — or 15 percent — are on ARVs,” the news service writes.

Kenyan AIDS Official Says Country Has Sufficient Funding To Support Programs Through 2016

Kenya has sufficient funds to support HIV/AIDS treatment programs through 2016, the head of the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) said in a statement on Wednesday after activists protested on Monday in support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Star reports. The Global Fund had to cancel Round 11 grants because “the cash at hand was not in the bank by the time we wanted to disburse,” according to the Fund’s Deputy Executive Director Debrework Zewdie, a move that sparked fears there would not be sufficient funding to pay for existing treatment programs, the Star notes (Muchangi, 2/2). In his statement, NACC head Alloys Orago said, “Though the available fund cushions beneficiaries from immediate effects of donor withdrawal up to 2016, such a move calls for home grown and innovative ways of locally financing the disease,” according to the Daily Nation (2/2).

NewsOne Examines HIV In Caribbean

NewsOne examines HIV in the Caribbean, where one percent of the population is infected with the virus, “small in comparison to numbers found in the global scheme but significant enough to distinguish it as the second-highest region with HIV/AIDS outside of sub-Saharan Africa.” According to the article, HIV is spread primarily among populations at high risk for the disease, including sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who use injection drugs.

USAID-Supported Programs Fighting TB, HIV In Brazil

In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Ed Scholl, AIDSTAR-One project director, writes about HIV and tuberculosis (TB) care in Brazil, where “USAID has partnered with the Brazilian Ministry of Health to improve early TB detection, increase HIV counseling and testing, and provide medical treatment for both infections.” He continues, “AIDSTAR-One, a USAID-funded project, is also conducting outreach in Brazilian prisons, which are often at high risk of TB and HIV epidemics.” He concludes, “Through partnerships like USAID and AIDSTAR-One, we can effectively fight TB and HIV across Brazil and Latin America, to improve the health of countless people and ultimately save lives” (2/7).