The Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) reports on HIV in the Kingdom of Swaziland, writing the country “now has the dubious distinction of having the world’s highest rate of both HIV and tuberculosis (TB).” The journal notes “[a]bout 26 percent of adults aged 15-49, or about 202,000 of all the citizens of Africa’s last absolute monarchy, are HIV-positive, according to the Swaziland government,” and asks, “Why are the 1.2 million people of this landlocked kingdom … in such dire straits?” CMAJ writes, “A host of underlying factors appear to be at the root of its woes: politics, history, culture, economics, poverty, gender inequity, and much more.”
The International HIV/AIDS Alliance has been providing technical support for UNAIDS since 2011 to assist policymakers in integrating human rights programs into National Strategic Plans for HIV (NSPs), the organization’s blog states and notes, “As part of the project, three regional workshops were held for: East and Southern Africa; the Middle East and North Africa; and the Asia/Pacific regions.” The blog continues, “The workshops aimed to increase participantsâ€™ knowledge of why human rights and HIV programs must be connected, and how a lack of integration is undermining the effectiveness of the HIV response.” A report, co-published by UNAIDS and the Alliance and titled “Making it Work,” provides “some short-term outcomes and lessons learnt from this initiative,” according to the blog (10/24).
“An HIV/AIDS report by advocacy organizations in Uganda indicates that new transmissions are on the rise amidst troubling trends of increasing prevalence and incidence,” Uganda’s New Vision reports. “The findings are contained in a report titled: ‘The Change We Need to End AIDS in Uganda,’ which describes a 10-point plan to halt the trend,” the newspaper notes. “Some of the 10 points include ending harmful policies that further marginalize vulnerable groups; endorsing and expanding safe medical circumcision; and tackling health challenges that hold back the response to AIDS,” according to the newspaper.
South Africa “recently unveiled” a “newly reformed” South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), “coinciding with the announcement that the country has achieved universal access to HIV treatment,” PlusNews reports. Responding to a 2010 review of the body, SANAC “will now hold a new, annual meeting comprised of representatives from the research community, labor unions and people living with HIV,” at which “participants will discuss major policy issues and review progress on the country’s current national plan to address the twin epidemics of HIV and tuberculosis,” according to the news service.
“Twenty-eight years since the first HIV/AIDS case was reported in Kenya, organizations are proposing a new model to fight the epidemic,” Sabahi reports. “The model, called ‘SAVE,’ an acronym for ‘Safer practices, Access to treatment, Voluntary counseling and testing, and Empowerment,’ hopes to improve the traditional ABC model, which focused on ‘Abstinence, Being faithful, and using Condoms,'” the news service adds. According to Inerela, an international interfaith group of religious leaders living with or affected by HIV/AIDS, “the ABC model’s inefficacy is partly due to lack of support from some segments of society, particularly religious leaders,” Sabahi writes, noting, “With SAVE, Inerela plans to use a multi-faceted approach to influence government policies and engage faith leaders and communities to change behaviors.” According to the news service, “The program focuses on providing mental and economic support to people affected by the disease while engaging religious leaders in the process” (Ramah, 10/9).
Gender Action recently released a new report (.pdf), titled “Banking on Health: World Bank and African Development Bank Spending on Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa,” according to the organization’s website. The report, based on fieldwork in Cameroon and Uganda, “reviews World Bank and AfDB projects to highlight how good quality matters as much as high quantity in reproductive and sexual health and HIV/AIDS spending,” the website notes. In addition to the report, Gender Action created a database (.xls) “containing comprehensive information about World Bank and AfDB investments (2000-2012) addressing reproductive health and HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan African countries,” the website states (10/9).
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog interviews Kenneth Mayer, founding medical research director of Fenway Health, as part of its “Blueprint” series, which examines issues surrounding the creation of a blueprint for an AIDS-free generation commissioned by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July. In the interview, Mayer discusses what he thinks should be key elements of the blueprint, highlights interventions he feels are critical components of combination prevention, and comments on the role research should play in the blueprint, among other topics (Barton, 10/9).
Global Health Funding Cuts Threatening Fight Against HIV, TB In Eastern Europe, Central Asia, NGO Report Says
The fight against HIV and tuberculosis (TB) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is being threatened by cuts in global health funding, according to “a report [.pdf] by leading European non-governmental health organizations,” Reuters reports. In the report, “experts called on the European Union to step in to fill the gaps left by global donors to countries within and neighboring its borders,” the news service notes. According to Reuters, “[c]ountries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have some of the world’s fastest growing HIV epidemics,” and “Europe is also home to the world’s highest documented rates of drug-resistant TB” (Kelland, 9/18).
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Victoria Fan, a CGD research fellow, and Rachel Silverman, a research assistant for the global health team at the center, examine the future of UNITAID. “Perhaps due to its relative obscurity and late entry to a crowded global health field, UNITAID has proactively worked to differentiate itself through a focus on commodities, market shaping, novel funding sources, and innovation,” but, “as UNITAID celebrates its sixth birthday …, it stands at a potential crossroads,” they write. Fan and Silverman note that a five-year evaluation report on the future of UNITAID, commissioned by its Executive Board, is forthcoming, and they highlight a paper (.pdf) in which they “outline some contradictions and limitations of UNITAID’s current approach.” They write, “We hope that the imminent evaluation provides the impetus for UNITAID to turn inward and do something truly innovative: buck institutional inertia, change course as necessary, and reinvent itself as the solution to 2012’s biggest global health challenges” (9/17).
“African leaders meeting on the sidelines of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly called [Wednesday] for innovative solutions to accelerate the response to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and to advance health for people on the continent,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “At their meeting at U.N. Headquarters, the leaders discussed the African Union (A.U.) Roadmap, which outlines long-term sustainable strategies to finance and provide access to HIV treatment and prevention services and other health services in Africa as called for in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” the news service writes, adding, “Leaders echoed the need for strong political leadership and enhanced country ownership and, as a first step, agreed to accelerate the implementation of the Roadmap, according to a news release issued by UNAIDS” (9/26).