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Philippines Experiencing Increasing Number Of New HIV Cases; Leaders Say Country Should Reconsider Policies

“At a time when many countries are seeing their HIV infection rates level off or decline,” health officials in the Philippines “have seen an unexpected surge in cases in the past several years, with a more than five-fold increase between 2007 and 2011, with 2,349 new cases last year,” the Wall Street Journal’s “Southeast Asia Real Time” blog reports, noting, “The total number of cases as of April 2012 is 9,396, compared to just 3,061 in 2007.” The blog continues, “Doctors are still trying to determine the cause of the unexpected increase. Either way, domestic and international HIV experts have been warning for a while that the Philippines has all the necessary ingredients for an HIV epidemic,” including low condom use, communities where multiple sexual partners or sex workers are widespread, and workers who travel overseas, “often in jobs or in regions that have relatively high rates of infection.”

VOA Profiles Vietnam Clinical HIV/AIDS Society

VOA News profiles the recently established Vietnam Clinical HIV/AIDS Society (VCHAS), among the first professional medical organizations of any type in Vietnam. VCHAS “was set up with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control through the Harvard Medical School AIDS Initiative, as part of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief,” VOA notes.

New Study Maps Global Zoonotic Disease 'Hotspots'

“A global study mapping human diseases that come from animals like tuberculosis, AIDS, bird flu or Rift Valley fever has found that just 13 such diseases are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths a year,” Reuters reports (Kelland, 7/5). “The report, which was conducted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Institute of Zoology (U.K.) and the Hanoi School of Public Health in Vietnam, maps poverty, livestock-keeping and the diseases humans get from animals, and presents a ‘top 20’ list of geographical hotspots,” an ILRI press release states (7/5). The study “found that Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania, as well as India have the highest zoonotic disease burdens, with widespread illness and death,” Reuters writes.

GlobalPost Examines Adult Male Circumcision Campaign In Swaziland

Noting “the United States wants to accelerate the pace of male circumcisions to support 4.7 million procedures in the developing world by the end of next year, up from one million at the beginning of this year,” GlobalPost, as part of its AIDS Turning Point special report, examines the adult male circumcision campaign in Swaziland. “Based on evidence from other African countries that female-to-male transmission of the virus can be reduced by 60 percent if men are circumcised, PEPFAR last year added an additional $15.5 million in funding for an ambitious ‘accelerated saturation initiative’ to circumcise 80 percent of HIV-negative men between ages 15 and 49” in Swaziland, GlobalPost notes, adding, “A year later, 23 percent had undergone the procedure.”

Bacterial Vaginosis Associated With Increased Risk Of HIV Transmission From Women To Men, Study Shows

Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a condition characterized by a disruption in normal vaginal bacteria, is associated with a more than three-fold increased risk of HIV transmission from an infected woman with the condition to her uninfected male partner, according to a study published June 26 in PLoS Medicine, VOA News reports. Craig Cohen, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California at San Francisco and lead author of the study, said additional research into the causes of and treatments for BV, as well as exactly how the condition increases the risk of HIV transmission, needs to be conducted, according to the news service. In some areas of Africa, up to half of the female population has BV but many are unaware of their condition, VOA reports, noting the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded the research (De Capua, 6/29).

New Lancet Issue Focuses On HIV Ahead Of AIDS 2012 Conference

This week’s issue of the Lancet “has an HIV theme ahead of the International AIDS Society meeting in Washington, D.C., … on July 22-27,” a Lancet editorial states, noting, “The issue of antiretrovirals for prevention, specifically pre-exposure prophylaxis, is presently under intense debate.” According to the editorial, “Two articles present further efforts to make treatment better and improve patients’ adherence,” and “[a] third article shows the benefits of antiretrovirals when given to either mothers or infants to prevent HIV transmission via breastfeeding” (6/29).

IAS President Will Use AIDS 2012 To Say 'Thank You' To U.S. For Contributions To HIV/AIDS Battle

Elly Katabira, president of the International AIDS Society and co-chair of the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), said he will use the conference as an occasion to say “thank you” to the U.S., VOA News reports. “We want the world to know how we appreciate the contribution of the American people. We know that we haven’t been going to the U.S. for the last 22 years, but in spite of that [the] U.S. is still the leading contributor to the struggle against the epidemic,” Katabira said, according to the news service. The conference will be held in Washington, D.C., from July 22-27, VOA notes, adding, “The U.S. hadn’t hosted the conference in so long due to a travel ban on those who were HIV-positive.” Katabira said he will stress continued funding for efforts to fight the epidemic, increased awareness and involvement among young people, and decreased stigma and discrimination against men who have sex with men and transgendered persons, according to the news service (De Capua, 6/28).

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).

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).

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