“Methadone treatment is proving to be the most efficient way to wean people in Bangladesh from addiction to buprenorphine, a pharmaceutical drug, and health experts say it should be expanded to reach thousands more drug users to prevent the spread of HIV,” IRIN reports. The news service notes that “illegal use of pharmaceutical substances, mostly buprenorphine, is on the rise” in the country. “Buprenorphine was intended to be used to wean injecting drug users, also known as people who inject drugs (PWID), from narcotics like heroin, but has itself become a substance of addiction, with users injecting a liquid form of it,” the news service notes, adding, “Methadone, a pain reliever, suppresses withdrawal symptoms and blocks craving.”
In this post in Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” blog, John-Manuel Andriote, a journalist and author living with HIV, writes, “For all of us living with HIV infection — Oct. 27 will mark seven years since my own diagnosis — the question we face daily, hopefully more consciously and deliberately than most, is how shall we live, knowing as we do that we will most assuredly die one day?” Reflecting on the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) that took place in Washington last month, he continues, “An AIDS-free generation is certainly a worthy goal,” but “even if tens of billions of additional dollars are allocated to address HIV/AIDS, even if the Republicans don’t succeed in inflicting their Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ upon the nation and the world, the question will continue to be what it has been for 31 years … Will we have the political will to end AIDS?”
India on Monday “opened a $12 million, government-backed laboratory whose mission is to create a new vaccine against HIV,” Science Insider reports. “The HIV Vaccine Translational Research Laboratory, which aims to recruit about 30 scientists, is embedded within the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, a $200 million facility under development on the outskirts of New Delhi” and “will work in collaboration with the New York based-International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI),” the news service writes, noting “operating costs will be shared equally” (Bagla, 8/14). “Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam launched the [laboratory] in New Delhi on Monday at a symposium on accelerating India’s search for an HIV vaccine,” the Wall Street Journal’s livemint.com writes. “Promising ‘strong political will’ at the highest level, health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said, ‘A preventive vaccine for HIV/AIDS is the best hope to end this epidemic,’” and “added that the step was an initiative to reinforce a national response in the global fight against disease,” the news service notes (Krishnan, 8/13).
In an article on the U.S. Department of Defense webpage, the American Forces Press Service reports on how a U.S. military medical team is helping the Botswana Defense Force “to promote Botswana’s national program of education, HIV screening and male circumcision surgeries to stem what’s become a national epidemic,” according to Army Col. (Dr.) Michael Kelly, an Army Reserve surgeon deployed in Botswana from the Army Reserve Medical Command in Washington. “The Botswana Ministry of Health’s goal, Kelly said, is to bring the number of new HIV diagnoses to zero by 2016, … an ambitious plan, in light of an HIV rate that has skyrocketed since the first case of AIDS was diagnosed in Botswana in 1985,” the news service writes (Miles, 8/14).
Ethiopian Government Working To Improve Access To Clean Toilets, Safe Water For People Living With HIV
PlusNews examines how a lack of access to clean toilets, safe drinking water, and “information on the prevention of common opportunistic infections means many Ethiopians living with HIV continue to contract easily preventable diseases.” The news service writes, “According to the [non-governmental organization (NGO)] Wateraid, people living with HIV are often unable to access community water sources or latrines because of stigma and discrimination.” Following calls from experts for the nation to address water and sanitation issues related to HIV care and treatment programs, the Ethiopian government “has laid out ambitious plans for water, sanitation and hygiene through its Universal Access Plan II, which seeks to reach 98.5 percent of its population with access to safe water and 100 percent with access to sanitation by 2015” and “is also drafting a document called ‘Guidelines to Integrate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene into HIV Programmes,’ which lays the groundwork for incorporating safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices into all HIV care services being delivered at all levels,” PlusNews reports (8/27).
Though many pregnant women are aware that treatment could save their lives and the lives of their infants if they test HIV-positive during prenatal care, a new study and literature review have found that a “[f]ear of being stigmatized as an AIDS patient is still a major barrier to good medical care for pregnant young women in many countries,” the New York Times reports. The study, published last week in PLoS Medicine, was “based on a survey of 1,777 women in rural Nyanza Province in Kenya,” according to the newspaper, which adds, “Only 44 percent of mothers in the province delivered in clinics, and the study found that a major obstacle was that they feared HIV tests.” The study’s author, Janet Turan, a professor of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in July also published “a review of multiple studies in many countries” that documented multiple accounts of “stigmatizing behavior,” the newspaper notes (McNeil, 8/27).
Advocacy Groups Warn Trans-Pacific Partnership Could Affect Access To Low-Cost Medications, Bloomberg Reports
Bloomberg Businessweek examines how ongoing trade negotiations related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership could affect access to quality low-cost medications, including antiretrovirals, in low- and middle-income countries. “Protecting the patents of drug makers … as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has drawn criticism from groups such as Doctors Without Borders and Public Citizen,” and “[t]he proposed accord has also spurred calls from U.S. lawmakers for greater transparency about the negotiations,” the news service writes. “The multilateral talks, the main accord being pursued by President Barack Obama’s administration, … began with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam [and] may expand after the parties invited Canada and Mexico,” the news service notes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a new HIV test, called the Limiting Antigen Avidity Enzyme Immunoassay, that can tell whether a person contracted the virus within the last 141 days, “hugely important information for researchers, who need to know whether fewer people are becoming newly infected with HIV to determine whether a prevention program is working,” the Wall Street Journal’s “Health Blog” reports. Speaking last month at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., “Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius called the new test ‘a major development that will help us better evaluate and improve our prevention efforts,’” the blog notes.
“U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a visit to South Africa that Pretoria will begin taking more of the responsibilities for its HIV/AIDS program, part of a broader effort to overhaul the U.S. global plan for AIDS relief launched under former President George W. Bush,” Reuters reports. “On Wednesday, Clinton is expected to sign a deal to rework South Africa’s programs under [PEPFAR], allowing the government to better use the funding in its fight against the virus,” the news service writes.
“Kenya’s government, under the leadership of President Mwai Kibaki, has allocated additional funding to its national AIDS response,” UNAIDS reports in a feature story on its webpage, noting, “The announcement came last Friday during a high level advocacy meeting in Nairobi.” “President Kibaki stressed in the meeting that despite a scarcity of resources in Kenya, the Government will not waver in its commitment to the national AIDS response,” UNAIDS writes, adding, “More than 85 percent of resources for Kenya’s response to HIV currently come from development partners” (8/15).