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South Africa Expands AIDS Program To Allow Earlier ARV Treatment

The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) on Saturday endorsed a new National Health Council policy to expand the country’s AIDS program “to allow people living with HIV to start antiretroviral [ARV] treatment earlier” by raising the CD4 count necessary to access treatment from 200 to 350, Agence France-Presse reports (8/14). Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi “said the plan would be integrated into the proposed National Health Insurance system,” SAPA/News24 writes (8/13).

HIV Prevention Must Include Economic Empowerment Of Women

“Transactional sex, sexual intercourse driven by material exchanges,” occurs worldwide, but “[i]n poor regions with high HIV prevalence rates like sub-Saharan Africa … transactional sex poses an even higher threat to one’s wellbeing and health because the chance of HIV infection is greater,” Daniella Choi, staff member at the Center…

Pakistan Faces HIV/AIDS Spreading From High-Risk Groups To General Population

“For a long time, perceptions of Pakistan as a conservative Muslim country encouraged a belief that HIV/AIDS incidence would be non-existent or very low,” but “with the number of HIV cases rising, the government finally included it in its 2009 national health policy,” BBC News reports. However, the full extent of the disease “is still not widely acknowledged,” and “experts say the epidemic is not being properly tackled,” the article states.

CDC Director Lauds India For TB And Tobacco Use Control Efforts, Urges Preparations To Fight NCDs

CDC Director Thomas Frieden, who currently is visiting India and who previously worked with the Indian government assisting in tuberculosis (TB) control, praised the country’s “progress in controlling tuberculosis and tobacco use” on Monday during a speech to health practitioners and policymakers, according to the Wall Street Journal’s “India Real Time” blog. Frieden also noted “India’s strides in the past decade on … polio control and HIV/AIDS prevention,” the blog reports.

Proportion Of New HIV Cases Increasing Among Older Population In China

The case of a Chinese man nearly 80 years old who was recently diagnosed with HIV is “shedding light on a segment of the Chinese population said to be overlooked by the country’s AIDS education efforts,” according to “a recent report from state-run media Xinhua News Agency,” the Wall Street Journal’s “China Real Time” blog reports.

U.S. Should Demand Human Rights-Based Approach To HIV Prevention Programs In Uganda

“Uganda has sometimes been considered a success story in fighting HIV and has been a darling of international donors,” including the U.S., which “has poured over $1 billion into the country for AIDS programs. But throughout Uganda there are people … who are passed over, denied treatment, or simply invisible to the country’s HIV prevention and treatment programs. Groups such as gay men, migrants, drug users, sex workers, and people with disabilities, as well as prisoners, are commonly left out,” Kathryn Todrys, a researcher with Human Rights Watch writes in GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog.

World Must Scale Up AIDS Fight, Even As Donors Scale Back

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece that “amid all the good news” about HIV prevention recently presented at the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, “one stubborn fact was hard to ignore: AIDS remains a metaphor for inequality.” With discrepancies in access to HIV treatment and prevention between developed and developing countries, “[i]t is hard not to conclude from all this that life is not valued equally across the world. This is morally wrong and unacceptable,” he writes.

Concentrated HIV Epidemics Emerging Among MSM In Middle East, North Africa, Study Shows

Concentrated HIV epidemics are emerging among men who have sex with men in the Middle East and North Africa, “and high levels of risky sexual behavior threaten to spread the AIDS virus further in the region, researchers said Tuesday” in a study published in PLoS Medicine, Reuters reports. The researchers “found evidence for concentrated HIV epidemics – where infection rates are above five percent in a certain population group – in several countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan and Tunisia,” the news agency notes (Kelland, 8/2).

Models Should Guide Decision-Making For HIV Prevention Strategies

Ronald Valdesarri, HHS deputy assistant secretary for health, infectious diseases, discusses a recent “two-day workshop on ‘Modeling and Evidence-Based Decision Making’ sponsored by amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research and cosponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, and the Urban Coalition for…