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Recent Africa Braintrust 2012 Forum ‘Informative, Inspiring’ For Those Committed To Continent’s Advancement

“Recently I attended the Africa Braintrust 2012 forum entitled ‘Africa Rising: A Continent of Opportunity,’ hosted by U.S. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) as part of their Annual Legislative Conference, in Washington, D.C.,” human rights activist Ivanley Noisette writes in the Huffington Post’s “World” blog, noting the event “concentrated on reinforcing support for promising development-aid strategies, providing a networking venue for interested professionals, encouraging foreign investment, and promoting the leadership of the CBC in advocating fair and just U.S. policy toward the many countries of Africa.” Noisette provides highlights from various panels at the event, noting, “The second panel, ‘Health Investments for Africa’s Future,’ featured presentations about HIV/AIDS and malaria progress, food security, agricultural development, and high-impact health initiatives.”

IRIN Examines Intellectual Property Protection In South Africa

IRIN examines how patents and intellectual property protection in South Africa affects patients’ access to medicines. “A form of intellectual property protection, patents are typically awarded to companies that can prove their product is new,” IRIN writes, adding, “Not so in South Africa, say activists and researchers, who claim the country’s patent system allows pharmaceutical companies to apply for new patents on existing drugs based on immaterial changes — like adding table salt to a formulation or changing a pill’s color.” The news service continues, “While pharmaceutical companies cash in, patients face staggering health care costs, and medicines like cancer treatments, third-line antiretrovirals (ARVs) and treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) are often priced out of reach.”

AIDS Research And Human Retroviruses Journal Publishes Special Issue On Prevention

The journal of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses has published a special issue examining the “complex factors involved in the sexual transmission of HIV, the urgent need for new preventive approaches, and the most promising methods currently in development,” according to a press release from the publisher, Mary Ann Leibert, Inc. “It is currently an exciting time in HIV prevention science research, with progress on multiple fronts,” Thomas Hope, editor-in-chief of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses and professor of cell and molecular biology at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, said in the press release. The entire issue is available online (11/5).

Kenya Ramping Up Male Circumcision Efforts To Meet 2015 Goal

“With just over one year left to achieve its target of having some 1.1 million men circumcised as part of HIV prevention efforts, Kenya’s government is ramping up efforts to bring more men into clinics, compensating them for their time and encouraging them to bring friends in for the procedure,” IRIN reports. “Kenya has carried out an estimated 477,000 circumcisions since the program started in 2008, according to the government,” IRIN writes. “This figure does not include those in the private sector where voluntary medical male circumcision is also done,” Walter Obiero, the clinical manager at the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society, said, the news service adds. “In 2011, UNAIDS and [PEPFAR] launched a five-year plan to have more than 20 million men in 14 eastern and southern African countries undergo medical male circumcision by 2015,” IRIN notes, writing, “The government is considering integrating male circumcision, currently offered as part of its HIV prevention package, into outpatient services in public hospitals, as well as starting infant male circumcision, which studies have found to be cost-effective” (11/6).

AIDS Organizations Release Discussion Paper On Post-2015 Development Agenda

The International AIDS Alliance, in collaboration with the Stop AIDS Alliance and STOP AIDS NOW!, has published “a discussion paper to help the HIV community to engage in” discussions surrounding the post-2015 development agenda, the International AIDS Alliance’s blog reports. “It is unclear at this stage how HIV and AIDS will be addressed in the new post-2015 development framework and the HIV sector could potentially lose out if HIV is not specifically addressed in it,” the blog states. The paper addresses issues such as universal health coverage, human rights and equity, and financing, and it offers suggestions on ways to engage with consultations (11/1).

Blog Series On Global AIDS Blueprint Interviews NIH Investigator

As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features an interview with Rochelle Walensky, a member of the Cost-effectiveness of Preventing AIDS Complications (CEPAC) and of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council at the NIH/DHS Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. According to the transcript, she discusses the key elements she feels should be a part of the blueprint, notes the interventions she feels would be critical components of a combination prevention package, and examines the role research should play in the blueprint, among other topics (Barton, 11/1).

'Details Of Implementation' Critical To Reaching Goal Of AIDS-Free Generation

Noting the progress made since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the upcoming recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, Ronald Valdiserri, deputy assistant secretary for health, infectious diseases at the Department of Health and Human Services, writes in a Public Health Reports opinion piece (.pdf), “[W]e would do well to keep in mind the following caution. No matter the elegance of the controlled trial, the statistical significance of the results, or the superiority of the science, we must confront this inevitable reality: We will never be able to take full advantage of our progress in HIV clinical and prevention science until we develop and sustain the human, organizational, and structural capacities necessary to implement these new scientific breakthroughs.” He continues, “If we fail to attend to the ‘on-the-ground’ details of implementation, we risk dissipating the promise of new drugs, novel therapies, and enhanced interventions that could, in fact, lead us to an AIDS-free generation.”

Blog Reports On Meeting Of World's Largest HIV Vaccine Research Network

KPLU 88.5’s “Humanosphere” blog reports on a meeting of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), “the world’s largest HIV vaccine research network,” held in Seattle this week. “We actually don’t know what the agenda is,” HVTN Executive Director Jim Kublin said during a lecture, titled “Scientific Agenda, the Next Seven Years,” according to the blog. “But what makes it easier to laugh about not knowing where you’re going, he added, is that researchers today have a lot more tantalizing clues — beginning with the ground-breaking Thai vaccine trial known to this bunch as RV144,” the blog writes and describes the study (Paulson, 10/31).

Resolve To Fight TB Must Be Strengthened In U.S. Global AIDS Blueprint

As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features an opinion piece by Salmaan Keshavjee of Harvard Medical School and Partners In Health. With an estimated 1,000 people with HIV dying of tuberculosis (TB) every day, “[i]t is clear that our current approaches to addressing the global tuberculosis pandemic are inadequate,” he writes. Keshavjee says, “First, bold targets for reducing tuberculosis incidence and zero TB-HIV deaths must be prioritized in the blueprint. … Second, known strategies for stopping the spread of tuberculosis have to be actively implemented. … Lastly, any effective strategy has to ensure that HIV advocates at the community level are educated about the threat of tuberculosis,” and he describes each of his points in detail. He concludes, “The United States has shown visionary leadership in the area of HIV treatment and changed the lives of countless people for the better. It is time to take on tuberculosis with the same moral and pragmatic vigor” (Barton, 10/31).

Examining Human Rights Program Integration Into National HIV Plans

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance has been providing technical support for UNAIDS since 2011 to assist policymakers in integrating human rights programs into National Strategic Plans for HIV (NSPs), the organization’s blog states and notes, “As part of the project, three regional workshops were held for: East and Southern Africa; the Middle East and North Africa; and the Asia/Pacific regions.” The blog continues, “The workshops aimed to increase participants’ knowledge of why human rights and HIV programs must be connected, and how a lack of integration is undermining the effectiveness of the HIV response.” A report, co-published by UNAIDS and the Alliance and titled “Making it Work,” provides “some short-term outcomes and lessons learnt from this initiative,” according to the blog (10/24).

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