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Bill Gates Stresses Importance Of Investment In Both HIV Treatment And Research For Vaccines, Microbicides

In a symposium session on Monday at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., politicians and public health experts joined Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates for a discussion about improving effectiveness and efficiency in the HIV/AIDS response, the Washington Post reports (Brown/Botelho, 7/23). “Gates … reiterated the importance for nations and donors to support research, but also expressed support for ongoing treatment initiatives in the meantime,” according to Agence France-Presse. “No one should think that we have got the tools yet. We will get the tools but only if we stay the course in terms of the scientific investments,” Gates said, AFP notes (Sheridan, 7/23). The Washington Post adds that “[t]he main one lacking is a vaccine, but also important and missing are woman-controlled means to prevent infection, such as a vaginal microbicide” (7/23).

Drug Resistance Increasing In Parts Of Africa, Report Shows

“Resistance to AIDS drugs, a problem that has been widely feared over the last decade, is growing in parts of Africa but should not hamper the life-saving drug rollout, researchers reported on Monday” in a study published in the Lancet, Agence France-Presse reports. “Over eight years, prevalence of resistant virus in untreated people soared from around one percent to 7.3 percent in eastern Africa, and from one percent to 3.7 percent in southern Africa,” the news agency writes, adding that while “[s]imilar rates of 3.5-7.6 percent were also found in western and central Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean,” those rates remained fairly stable over the study period (7/23). “The authors of the new report suggested strengthening pharmacy supply chains to prevent shortages — a chronic problem in poor countries. They also called for better tracking of patients for whom drugs are prescribed,” the New York Times notes (McNeil, 7/23).

RECENT RELEASE: CSIS Blog Posts Highlight Panel Discussions On PEPFAR, Examine Challenges To Administering Treatment-As-Prevention

“In advance of the XIX International AIDS Conference — AIDS 2012 — CSIS celebrated the release of the special supplement of the Journal of AIDS focused on PEPFAR” with an event organized in cooperation with the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC),” the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog reports. According to the blog, the event “featured contributing authors and guest editors who are leading figures in PEPFAR and the international HIV/AIDS community” participating “in wide-ranging discussions of the successes and challenges of PEPFAR, from its inception to its future” (Fisher/Kramer, 7/23). In a related post in the blog, Phillip Nieburg, a senior associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, examines the challenges of adopting treatment-as-prevention as a strategy to achieve an “AIDS-free generation” (7/23).

OPINION: International AIDS Conference Will Highlight Opportunities To End Epidemic

Susan Blumenthal, public health editor at Huffington Post and former U.S. assistant surgeon general, and Michelle Moses-Eisenstein, an Allan Rosenfield Health Policy Fellow with amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research in Washington, write in the Huffington Post Blog that the International AIDS Conference, held in Washinton this week, “will highlight opportunities for achieving an AIDS-free generation.” They add, “Of great concern right now is that the remarkable progress toward ending AIDS that has been made over the past decades is being threatened by a decline in resources and the threat of budget cuts to support HIV research and services worldwide.” They conclude, “If we are going to eradicate AIDS in America and worldwide, then a global strategic plan for achieving an HIV-free generation is needed that mobilizes all sectors of society across countries, scales up interventions that work to reach more people, makes programs more efficient and accountable, and invests in research to accelerate progress in ending HIV/AIDS, including intensifying efforts to discover both a cure and a vaccine” (7/23).

Secretary Clinton Reaffirms U.S. Commitment To 'AIDS-Free Generation,' Pledges More Than $150M For Global Efforts

In a speech delivered at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “underscored the United States’ commitment to achieving an ‘AIDS-free generation’ and announced more than $150 million in additional funding,” Politico reports (Norman, 7/23). “‘I’ve heard a few voices from people raising questions about America’s commitment,’ she said, adding, ‘We will not back off. We will not back down,'” according to The Hill’s “Healthwatch” (Viebeck, 7/23). Of the $150 million pledged, “$80 million will be dedicated towards preventing mother-to-child transmission abroad, with the goal of eliminating it by the year 2015”; “[a]nother $40 million is allotted for voluntary male circumcision in Africa to decrease risk of transmission of the virus”; “an additional $15 million [will] fund research on interventions”; “$20 million [is] to bolster country-led efforts to expand HIV-related services”; and “$2 million [will go] towards civil society groups to reach key populations affected by HIV,” ABC News writes (Duwell, 7/23). “Clinton said she had commissioned [U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby] to produce a blueprint for the way ahead,” the Guardian notes (Boseley, 7/23). “Goosby’s deadline is the upcoming World AIDS Day, Dec. 1,” Inter Press Service adds (Biron, 7/23).

RECENT RELEASE: Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post Poll Shows Positive News About Public Opinion And HIV

As the XIX International AIDS Conference convenes in Washington, D.C., Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) President and CEO Drew Altman highlights positive news about public opinion and HIV from KFF’s new survey of the American people conducted with the Washington Post in his latest “Pulling It Together” column. He says that “the American people get most of the essentials about the HIV epidemic right (but not necessarily all of the details)” and highlights some of the survey’s findings. Altman also explores factors possibly contributing to the public’s understanding of the epidemic, including media coverage, personal contact with people living with HIV, and advocacy and education efforts. Though “there is a long way to go in the effort to end the epidemic here and abroad … there is a foundation of basic public knowledge and support which will serve the HIV effort well in years ahead,” he concludes (7/23).

RECENT RELEASE: Kaiser Family Foundation/JAMA Infographic Examines 30 Years Of HIV/AIDS

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) in partnership with the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has launched a new monthly infographic series, titled Visualizing Health Policy, which will provide visual snapshots of data that illuminate health policy issues, according to a KFF announcement (7/23). July’s Visualizing Health Policy looks at the state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic after three decades, and is published in the July 25 edition of JAMA, released at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., the KFF website notes (7/23). The infographic includes global estimates of HIV prevalence, donor government funding for HIV/AIDS in developing countries, rates of new HIV diagnoses in the United States by race/ethnicity, and how the public’s perception of HIV/AIDS as the most urgent public health problem has diminished over time (7/23).

OPINION: U.S. Should Reconsider Ban On Funding Needle-Exchange Programs

Noting that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s special cabinet committee on AIDS in 1986 “decided there should be clean needle exchanges for injecting drug users (IDUs) to prevent the spread of HIV,” Norman Fowler, a member of the British House of Lords and former British health secretary, writes in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” There is no question that needle exchanges and drug substitution have reduced HIV: only two percent of new infections in Britain now come through that route.” In addition, “The policy has neither encouraged drug taking nor crime. Similar reports come from other nations that have adopted this approach,” he says, continuing, “Tragically, not all nations have followed such a lead,” including the U.S. and the Ukraine. Fowler adds, “If the U.S. was to reconsider [its recently reinstated] ban [on funding domestic and international needle exchanges] and recognize that without needle-exchange programs it is impossible to provide full protection from the spread of HIV and the death and suffering that goes with it, it would send a message around the world” (7/20).

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