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Political Leaders, Celebrities Come Together For World AIDS Day Event

“A star-studded array of political and religious leaders — from President Obama to rock legend Bono to AIDS activist Kay Warren — came together Thursday for World AIDS Day to call for an entirely AIDS-free generation by 2015,” the Washington Post reports, adding, “The event was sponsored by ONE and (RED),” both of which were co-founded by Bono (Kuhn, 12/1). “Former President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton, as well as Tanzania President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, telecom magnate Carlos Slim of Mexico, and singer/songwriter Elton John also joined the two-hour-long talkfest via video satellite link,” ScienceInsider writes (Cohen, 12/1).

Obama Announces New U.S. Commitments To End AIDS Domestically, Globally

Speaking at the ONE campaign and (RED)’s “Beginning of the End of AIDS” event at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., to mark World AIDS Day on Thursday, “President Obama … announced a deepened U.S. commitment to fighting the pandemic, declaring ‘make no mistake, we are going to win this fight,'” ABC News reports (Bruce, 12/1). Obama said his administration is “setting a goal of providing antiretroviral [ARV] drugs to more than 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women over the next two years” to help prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, and “setting a new target of helping six million people get [ARV] treatment by the end of 2013,” two million more people than the original goal, according to the speech transcript (12/1). A White House fact sheet adds PEPFAR will support more than 4.7 million voluntary medical male circumcisions in Eastern and Southern Africa and the U.S. will distribute more than one billion condoms worldwide over the next two years. The fact sheet notes PEPFAR’s “continued focus on lowering costs and finding efficiencies will allow us to achieve these ambitious targets with existing resources” (12/1).

Product Development Partnerships ‘Essential’ In Fight Against Global Diseases

“If the momentum gained in the last few years” in fighting global diseases such as HIV, tuberculosis (TB), malaria, measles, and meningitis “is any indicator of our future trajectory, we are standing on the threshold of a revolutionary change in the state of global health,” Wendy Taylor, senior adviser of Innovative Finance and Public Private Partnerships at USAID, and David Cook, executive vice president and COO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), write in this opinion piece in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” They discuss the importance of “Product Development Partnerships, or PDPs for short,” which “are great examples of public-private collaborations [that] are starting to build deep pipelines for new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic tools.”

Obama Renews U.S. Commitment To Ending AIDS In World AIDS Day Speech

President Barack Obama on Thursday renewed the U.S. commitment to ending HIV/AIDS in a speech marking World AIDS Day, and was joined by former presidents Bill Clinton, who participated by video, and George W. Bush, who spoke from Tanzania with that country’s President, Jakaya Kikwete, the Independent reports (Popham, 12/1). According to the Associated Press, Obama announced U.S. “goal[s] of getting antiretroviral drugs to two million more people around the world by the end of 2013,” bringing the total to six million people, and “to 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent them from passing the virus to their children.” The news agency continues, “Despite Obama’s more ambitious goals,” which build on existing PEPFAR programs, “the plan’s budget is not expected to increase. Instead, officials said the expanded targets would be funded through savings achieved by making the program more efficient and cutting the costs of treatment” (Pace, 12/1).

Financial Times, IPS Report On Male Circumcision As HIV Prevention Strategy

Male circumcision is “a practice that — despite the evidence — has yet to be adopted as much or as fast as experts had hoped,” the Financial Times reports. “International organizations have publicly endorsed the importance of circumcision, and a number of guidelines have been established, but the response so far has been haphazard and funding remains modest,” the newspaper writes, adding, “One reason has been that much government donor and philanthropic support for HIV prevention work was focused instead on more ‘high-tech’ alternatives such as vaccines and microbicides” (Jack, 11/30).

Percentage Of Pregnant Women Living With HIV In South Africa Increases, Survey Suggests

The percentage of pregnant women living with HIV in South Africa “has inched up to 30.2 percent from 29.4 percent last year,” according to the annual National Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence survey released by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in Pretoria on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reports (11/29). The survey “sampled over 32,000 pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in October last year,” South Africa’s Times Live notes (11/30).