On average, 200 people are diagnosed with HIV every day in Russia, Al Jazeera reports. “Vadim Pokrovsky, the head of Russia’s AIDS research center, has said that instead of recognizing a crisis — the government is indifferent to the problem,” the news service writes, adding, “‘If we had 200 cases of diarrhea at a children’s pioneer camp, the country’s head sanitation doctor would fly out immediately to save them,’ Pokrovsky said.” Pokrovsky continued, “It would be frightening. Governors would run, helicopters would fly, the police would search for the source of infection, prosecutors would get to work. But here we are seeing that there is complete indifference to this situation,” according to the news service.
The New York Times examines grassroots HIV/AIDS outreach and testing efforts aimed at gay men in China. The newspaper highlights “Lingnan Health Center, an organization run largely by gay volunteers,” and recounts the story of Le, “a gay man who would give only his first name.” The newspaper writes he is “one of thousands of gay men in this bustling city of 13 million people who are benefiting from a pioneering experiment that supporters hope will revolutionize the way the Communist Party deals with non-government groups trying to stop the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.”
Thai Health Advocates Work To Protect Special Provisions On Medicines Under E.U. Free Trade Agreement
Thailand and the European Union (E.U.) are expected to begin talks on a free trade agreement early this year, and Thai public health advocates have sent a letter to Joao Aguiar Machado, deputy director general for trade at the European Commission, “call[ing] for the bloc to respect global trade rules’ special provisions for developing countries,” Inter Press Service reports. “‘We are worried that the E.U. negotiators will force Thailand to accept new conditions on patents that would make access to new generic drugs more difficult,’ says Chalermsak Kittitrakul, campaign officer at the AIDS Access Foundation,” the news service writes, adding, “Thai health activists are hoping that their record of mounting successful campaigns against pharmaceutical giants — even from the United States — to ensure a thriving generic drugs market for patients in the country and across the region remains intact” (Macan-Markar, 12/29).
In “an effort to advance highly lauded efforts to combat AIDS,” Brazil will require physicians to report cases of HIV, not just AIDS, to state and federal authorities, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. Brazil’s national treatment program currently “reaches 223,000 people and costs the nation nearly $700 million a year,” but health authorities said they believe another 250,000 people are living with HIV and could benefit from early therapy, according to the news agency (12/27).
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog interviews U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby “on the challenges and goals of the new PEPFAR blueprint and the promise of an AIDS-free generation.” According to the interview transcript, Goosby discusses how and why the international community is “at a turning point in the fight against AIDS,” lessons the U.S. can learn from Africa and PEPFAR, and challenges in creating the blueprint, among other topics (Judem, 12/27).
In a joint post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Amanda Glassman, director of global health policy and a senior fellow at the CGD; research assistant Denizhan Duran; and Kate McQueston, program coordinator to the global health policy team, recap major global health events in 2012, linking to previous coverage of highlighted issues. “The global health legacy of 2012 will be twofold, a year of both increased commitments to health and flat lining budgets,” they write, adding, “While these are all great news, it is still uncertain as to who will pay for these ambitious goals: biggest donors are already scaling down their health aid budgets, and there remains a tremendous resource gap to reach the end of AIDS” (12/20).
“What will the next great leap forward be, and how can we make sure it gets tested ASAP?” Zachary Barnett, founder and executive director of Abzyme Research Foundation/ENDHIV.com, asks about HIV research in the Huffington Post’s “Gay Voices” blog. “International sales of antiretrovirals in 2011 were over $15 billion, while commercial reinvestment into the testing of therapeutic vaccine and cure approaches was just $30 million, or just 0.2 percent,” he notes, adding, “So it appears we need more ways to get money flowing into new cure and therapeutic vaccine research.”
“Health programs integrating services for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV into regular maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) clinics, rather than operating PMTCT services as stand-along programs, are showing positive results in Kenya, experts say,” PlusNews reports. “Some 13,000 Kenyan children contract HIV annually; the country is among some 22 nations accounting for 90 percent of all pregnant women living with HIV,” according to the news service. PlusNews examines how “[t]he government is now moving towards the integration of HIV and other public health services, part of efforts to strengthen the overall health system,” in order to reach its goal of eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015 (12/19).
In GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog, Mia Mazer, a media and communications intern with the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region, writes about the formation of the Mesoamerican Coalition for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, a regional advocacy initiative of more than 40 different organizations that aims to hold governments accountable to a 2008 Ministerial Declaration, titled “Preventing through Education.” As a tool for HIV prevention, the declaration was meant to improve young people’s access to reproductive health services and education, she writes, adding, “But four years later, the ministries have failed to uphold their promise.”
“Even with the knowledge and medicines to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to children, there are still babies being born with HIV [in the U.S.] and around the world,” Jake Glaser, Janice McCall, and Cristina Pena — all persons living with HIV who contracted the virus through mother-to-child transmission and who work as ambassadors for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation — write in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “Without early treatment, half of those children will die by their second birthday. Their journeys will end far too soon,” they continue, adding, “But it doesn’t have to be that way.”