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Despite Progress, Efforts To End HIV/AIDS Epidemic Must Be Redoubled, U.N. Officials Say

“Despite the tremendous progress that has been achieved in the response to HIV/AIDS, it is urgent that efforts be redoubled to end this global epidemic, top United Nations officials stressed [Monday], highlighting in particular the need to expand services and scale up resources,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘Together we must…

If Health Continues To Wane On G8 Agenda, A Serious Void Will Be Left

In this post in the Global Health Governance blog, Jenilee Guebert, director of research for the global health diplomacy program and G8 research group at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, writes that, “for the second year in a row, the amount of attention devoted to global health” at the annual G8 summit, which took place at Camp David in Maryland in May, has declined. “Global health was not completely absent from the summit,” she continues, highlighting several health initiatives discussed at the meeting, including the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, launched “to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture” with an aim of “lift[ing] 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade.”

Child Survival Call To Action Event Signals A 'Hopeful Moment' In Global Health

“Helping mothers give birth to HIV-free children is an essential piece of the puzzle of ending preventable child deaths,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in this post in the AIDS.gov blog, adding, “Yet 390,000 infants around the globe were born with the virus in 2010.” He continues, “Science has long established that providing mothers with antiretroviral drugs can prevent them from transmitting the virus to their children — as well as keeping the mothers alive themselves,” and writes, “What is needed is to take this intervention, available in affluent nations to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and make it available in the developing world.”

U.N. Women Becomes 11th Member Of UNAIDS Partnership

“The U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (U.N. Women) [on Tuesday] became the 11th member of the Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), a partnership that focuses on achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support,” the U.N. News Centre reports, adding, “UNAIDS and U.N.…

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Reflects On Lessons Learned From PEPFAR's First Decade

In this post in the Department of State’s “DipNote” blog, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby reflects on his speech at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday in anticipation of the AIDS 2012 conference scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. from July 22-27. Noting he discussed “some of the lessons learned from the first decade of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that can inform future efforts on AIDS and global health,” he writes, “The last 10 years have taught us what must be done to end this epidemic and achieve an AIDS-free generation, and I have great hope that we will get it done. This is the moment to seize this hope, and together we will turn the tide” (6/26).

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).

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