“If the world scales-up HIV treatment and prevention in the next two years, a critical tipping point — in which those on treatment outnumber those newly infected with the virus — could be reached, according to the global HIV prevention advocacy organization AVAC,” PlusNews reports. The news service “breaks down the issues likely to top the HIV prevention agenda in the coming year,” including better defining “combination prevention” for country- and local-level needs, preparing for new voluntary medical male circumcision methods, and protecting HIV prevention research funding (12/13).
“Optimism and momentum has been building around the real possibility that an AIDS-free generation is imminent. … Yet, the most recent estimates of HIV prevalence and incidence and of AIDS-related mortality released by UNAIDS, together with data from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 in the Lancet, make it clear that AIDS is not over,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe; Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; and Mark Dybul, incoming executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, write in a Lancet opinion piece. The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 and UNAIDS data “highlight a persistent, significant, and egregious burden of avoidable death,” the authors write, noting global statistics and recent success in reducing the number of AIDS-related deaths and incidence rates worldwide.
The November 2012 issue (.pdf) of the Global Health Diplomacy Network’s (GHD-NET) Health & Foreign Policy Bulletin is now available online. Among other topics, the issue examines antiretroviral drug adherence among conflict-affected and displaced populations, discusses non-communicable disease control and prevention in Latin America and the Caribbean, and highlights UNAIDS’ World AIDS Day report: Results (November 2012).
In this White House blog post, Samantha Power, special assistant to the President and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights at the National Security Council, highlights progress made across the U.S. government in implementing “the first-ever Presidential Memorandum to advance the human rights of [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT)] persons.” The memorandum “require[s] all U.S. agencies engaged abroad to ‘ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,’ and to report annually on their progress,” she notes. Power discusses efforts undertaken by the State Department, USAID, the Peace Corps, PEPFAR, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Department of Health and Human Services and other departments, as well as multilateral engagements. She writes, “We will continue to build on this foundation to identify new opportunities to advance and protect the human rights of LGBT persons” (12/13).
“What does it take to get to zero? While reflecting on the theme of this past World AIDS Day (Getting to zero, Zero new infections, Zero discrimination, Zero deaths), I asked myself this question,” Lisa MacDonald, project manager at HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, writes in a Huffington Post Canada opinion piece. “The truth is that it takes a combined effort across multiple sectors, using multiple strategies and targeting multiple audiences,” she states. However, “one issue that cuts across all sectors is that of gender inequity and its role in shaping sexual relations and in determining life choices,” she continues.
IRIN reports on the HIV/AIDS response in Guinea-Bissau, writing, “One year after the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria reduced funding to the Guinea-Bissau government body in charge of coordinating HIV prevention and treatment activities, health centers outside the capital are facing medicine shortages, patients are not receiving the treatment they need, and the transport of patients to treatment centers has been cut.” According to the news service, “The Global Fund stopped most of its funding to the Secretriado National de Luta Contra le Sida (SNLS), the government structure in charge of coordinating the HIV response, at the end of 2011, because of poor performance management and a lack of transparent fiduciary controls.”
“Global efforts to reach the ‘three zeros’ for women and girls — zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths — are gaining momentum,” Michelle Bachelet, executive director of U.N. Women, Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, and Jennifer Gatsi Mallet, executive director of the Namibia Women’s Health Network, write in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. “Much of the progress we have seen is underpinned by the work of women living with HIV,” they write, detailing some of the progress. “Despite these gains, our efforts for women and girls remain inadequate — a message amplified by women living with HIV from around the world in the new report ‘Women out loud,'” the authors state.
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines the potential impacts of a proposed anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda, writing that the bill “would stand as an obstacle to both access to health care and to the ability of health care providers to even offer services,” making prevention of “the bill’s passage a matter of life and death, as well as of rights and dignity.” According to the blog, “The record of Uganda’s HIV fight, once hailed as a model and a success story, now showing the most alarming reverses in Africa, stands as testament to what happens to health responses in a setting where science, human rights, and the realities of the impact of discriminatory laws are ignored. In all of those, of course, Uganda is far from alone, raising the question of what the world’s greatest united humanitarian effort, the work to treat and prevent the spread of HIV, could achieve when those issues are addressed.” The blog briefly examines other countries’ anti-sodomy laws and proposed anti-homosexuality legislation (Barton, 12/10).
BBC News examines ongoing efforts to develop a female-controlled microbicide to prevent HIV infection. But so far, “efforts … have presented a great deal of frustration in the fight against this global epidemic,” the news service writes, detailing the history of some failed experiments. “According to the Microbicide Trials Network, there are currently nine different microbicide products in clinical trials,” BBC notes. Angela Obasi of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said, “In many parts of the world — especially in the parts of the world where HIV is most prevalent — there are gender status issues that make it very tricky for a woman to control the circumstances under which she is exposed to HIV. … So methods that are controlled by women give them a critically important power over the safety of their own bodies,” according to the news service (Gill, 12/8).
“Science is at the center of efforts to design and implement more effective preventative and care programs for HIV/AIDS set out in a blueprint published by a U.S. government initiative that fights the disease,” SciDev.Net reports, referencing the PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation that was released November 29. “Using science to evaluate initiatives, develop new interventions and find ways to keep people in treatment are some of the suggestions in the report,” the news service writes. “The blueprint is an attempt to take this science and translate it into policy and programs in a much more aggressive way,” David Haroz, special assistant to the principal deputy U.S. global AIDS coordinator and a co-author of the report, said, according to SciDev.Net. The news service discusses the contents of the blueprint and continues, “All actors, from regional governments to international organizations, such as the World Bank and the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria], need to apply its principles if it was to have the necessary impact, [Haroz] adds” (Piotrowski, 12/7).