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UNAIDS Executive Director Calls On African Leaders To Reduce 'Triple Dependency' On External Sources Of HIV Drugs, Commodities, Technologies

“Delivering a speech at [Wednesday’s] opening session of the 16th Conference of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe congratulated leaders across the region for their personal commitment to the HIV response, specifically with regard to upholding human rights and protecting human capital,” UNAIDS reports in an article on its website. “Addressing eight Heads of State and other high-level participants in Lome, Togo, he called on African leaders to reduce their ‘triple dependency’ on external sources for HIV drugs, commodities, and technologies,” the agency writes, adding, “To ensure the health and security of their populations, African leaders should focus greater attention and resources on the local production of medicines, said the UNAIDS executive director” (6/6).

IAS President Will Use AIDS 2012 To Say 'Thank You' To U.S. For Contributions To HIV/AIDS Battle

Elly Katabira, president of the International AIDS Society and co-chair of the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), said he will use the conference as an occasion to say “thank you” to the U.S., VOA News reports. “We want the world to know how we appreciate the contribution of the American people. We know that we haven’t been going to the U.S. for the last 22 years, but in spite of that [the] U.S. is still the leading contributor to the struggle against the epidemic,” Katabira said, according to the news service. The conference will be held in Washington, D.C., from July 22-27, VOA notes, adding, “The U.S. hadn’t hosted the conference in so long due to a travel ban on those who were HIV-positive.” Katabira said he will stress continued funding for efforts to fight the epidemic, increased awareness and involvement among young people, and decreased stigma and discrimination against men who have sex with men and transgendered persons, according to the news service (De Capua, 6/28).

New Lancet Issue Focuses On HIV Ahead Of AIDS 2012 Conference

This week’s issue of the Lancet “has an HIV theme ahead of the International AIDS Society meeting in Washington, D.C., … on July 22-27,” a Lancet editorial states, noting, “The issue of antiretrovirals for prevention, specifically pre-exposure prophylaxis, is presently under intense debate.” According to the editorial, “Two articles present further efforts to make treatment better and improve patients’ adherence,” and “[a] third article shows the benefits of antiretrovirals when given to either mothers or infants to prevent HIV transmission via breastfeeding” (6/29).

GlobalPost Blog Examines Large-Scale Public Sector Condom Distribution Campaigns In U.S. Versus Abroad

GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog profiles Washington, D.C.’s public condom distribution campaign, the Rubber Revolution Campaign, one of only a handful of large-scale public sector condom distribution campaigns in the U.S., and examines why public sector condom campaigns are more common outside of the U.S. “In other parts of the world, public sector condom campaigns are standard, [according to Michael Kharfen, bureau chief of partnerships and community outreach at the D.C. Department of Health], while in the United States they are primarily run through non-profit organizations,” the blog writes, noting, “Kharfen added that there is a lesson to be learned from other countries’ efforts to promote condom use through social marketing and public education.”

Al Jazeera Examines Cuba's National Health Care System; IPS Looks At HIV/AIDS In The Country

In a feature story, Al Jazeera examines Cuba’s national health care system, which “works — or is supposed to work — by emphasizing primary and preventative health care.” However, after subsidies from the former Soviet Union “ended and Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin, nothing was the same again,” according to the news agency, which notes the system experiences drug shortages, patients have long wait times, and some hospitals are dirty or malfunctioning. “In all fairness, in the past five years, the government has made great efforts to improve hospitals and health centers, but again, lack of resources is making the process painfully slow,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “The system is free, but it is neither fast nor efficient for two important reasons. One is obviously the lack of financial resources, and the other — which is related to the first — is the ‘export’ of doctors, nurses and dentists in exchange for hard currency.” The feature concludes, “But for all its shortcomings, Cubans do have better access to health care than the majority of those living in many ‘developing nations,’ where public health is shockingly inadequate” (Newman, 6/18).

WHO Releases Programmatic Update On Antiretroviral Treatment As Prevention Of HIV, TB

“The potential for antiretroviral medicine to reduce transmission of HIV and tuberculosis has been demonstrated, but the challenges of using treatment to prevent infection will need to be tackled country by country, and with focus on people for whom it will have the biggest impact, the latest bulletin on HIV treatment from the World Health Organization says,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “WHO’s June 2012 Antiretroviral Treatment as Prevention (TasP) of HIV and TB Programmatic Update is the latest of a series of documents the organization says will lead to a completed set of guidelines on treatment and prevention in July 2013,” the blog reports, noting, “The organization also plans to release new recommendations in time for the July International AIDS Conference, addressing the preventative use of antiretroviral medicine by people who are uninfected but potentially exposed to HIV, including those involved in commercial sex work, in ongoing relationships with infected partners, and men who have sex with men” (6/18).

Panelists Discuss Recent Changes To Global Fund During Kaiser Family Foundation Webcast

During a live webcast discussing recent changes at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “[p]anelists discussed the fund’s new strategy and what this strategy means for the global fight against these three diseases,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports. J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted the Global Fund’s new general manager, Gabriel Jaramillo, had moved quickly in focusing on restructuring and realigning the fund, according to the blog. Todd Summers, independent consultant and chair of the Strategy, Investment & Impact Committee at the Global Fund, said, “Now we see lots of opportunity to really make a big difference and change forever the trajectory” of the epidemics, “Global Pulse” notes.

Large-Scale Trial Of Vaginal Ring That Releases Anti-HIV Drug Announced At Health Summit In London

“This week, at the Pacific Health Summit in London, the final large-scale trial was officially launched of a vaginal ring which women can wear and forget about — at least for a month at a time — while it releases an HIV virus-killing drug called dapivirine,” the Guardian reports. “If successful, it could also be combined with hormonal contraception,” the newspaper notes. The phase III clinical trial, “launched by the International Partnership for Microbicides, is already recruiting women in South Africa, Rwanda and Malawi” and “will involve 1,650 women — enough to prove definitively whether it works,” according to the newspaper (Boseley, 6/13).

Ethiopian Government, PEPFAR To Run 5-Year HIV Prevention Program Aimed At High-Risk Groups

“More than 100 million condoms will be distributed annually to sex workers, men who have sex with men, and other groups vulnerable to HIV as part of a new five-year program to be run by the Ethiopian government and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” PlusNews reports. “Dubbed MULU, the Amharic word for comprehensive, the $70 million program — implemented by the NGOs Population Services International and World Learning — will also target day laborers in the booming construction industry, migrant workers and their partners,” the news service notes.

International AIDS Conference Kicks Off In Washington, D.C.

The XIX International AIDS Conference opened in Washington, D.C., on Sunday and “is expected to draw 25,000 people, including politicians, scientists and activists, as well as some of the estimated 34 million people living with HIV who will tell their stories,” Agence France-Presse reports (Sheridan, 7/22). “Researchers, doctors and patients attending the world’s largest AIDS conference are urging the world’s governments not to cut back on the fight against the epidemic when it is at a turning point,” the Associated Press writes, adding, “There is no cure or vaccine yet, but scientists say they have the tools to finally stem the spread of this intractable virus — largely by using treatment not just to save patients but to make them less infectious, too” (Neergaard, 7/22). “New breakthroughs in research will be announced, as will new efforts by governments and organizations to reduce the spread of HIV, to treat those who have it, and to work, eventually, toward a vaccine and a cure,” the Seattle Times writes (Tate, 7/22). According to the Washington Post’s “Blog Post,” three remaining challenges to be addressed at the conference include: “More research into treatment and prevention, and more ways to deliver treatments”; reaching marginalized populations, such as men who have sex with men and sex workers; and “[i]ncreasing funding for PEPFAR and other anti-AIDS programs” (Khazan, 7/20).