Noting the recent release of the “PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf), Kim Lufkin, communications officer at the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), writes in the organization’s “Breakthroughs” blog, “It’s commendable that the U.S. government is continuing its legacy as a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as this blueprint indicates. It’s also encouraging that the blueprint focuses on developing new scientific breakthroughs in the fight against the disease.” She continues, “As the Obama administration enters its second term in the new year, leaders across the administration must ensure that the priorities outlined in this blueprint are fulfilled, particularly the U.S. commitment to research and new HIV/AIDS tools. We cannot reach an AIDS-free generation otherwise” (12/3).
In the New York Times’ “Scientist At Work” blog, Alexander Kumar, a physician and researcher at Concordia Station in Antarctica, examines the question of “why humans should venture out to other planets, and perhaps in the process create new problems, when we have so many problems on our own planet,” including HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and other “largely preventable and treatable” conditions. Kumar, who is “investigat[ing] the possibility of one day sending humans to Mars” for the European Space Agency, says he is “repeatedly asked … why the human race would invest its precious and finite resources (money) into space exploration?” He continues, “People have presented valid arguments both ways: those against, about depriving the bottom billion of our planet by diverting much-needed funding; and those in favor, for furthering mankind’s now-desperate need for discoveries and new life-saving technology through exploration in space.
This report (.pdf) from the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), titled “Competing Pressures for U.S. PEPFAR In Botswana: Rising Ambitions, Declining Resources,” examines how the “partnership will be tested as the United States and Botswana negotiate a complex, multiyear handoff of PEPFAR-supported HIV/AIDS activities and as U.S. financial assistance is reduced,” the report summary states. The summary continues, “Botswana is a good setting in which to see whether an AIDS-free Generation is achievable and to better understand what success might require in terms of policy and programmatic innovations, health planning and management capacity, and costs” (Stash et al., 11/30).
The Skoll World Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog have co-produced a blog series to answer the question, “What will it really take to end AIDS?” In the first of six posts, Steffano Bertozi, director of HIV in the Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, writes, “[D]espite evidence of measurable progress, it’s important to recognize that we still don’t have all of the tools that we need to end AIDS,” therefore “we still have an essential moral obligation to discover, develop and deliver new and better ways to help people protect themselves from HIV infection” (12/3). In another post, Erin Hohlfelder, ONE’s policy manager for health, says with “scaled-up financing, targeted programming, and expanded political will,” as well as “renewed urgency and concerted action, the world can transform the beginning of the end of AIDS from a vision to a reality and chart a course towards ending this pandemic” (12/3).
“This week, as we gathered in the White House with key scientists, policymakers, and community stakeholders to commemorate World AIDS Day, I was so proud to help highlight the progress we’ve made in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the President, writes in the AIDS.gov blog. Jarrett discusses progress made against the disease in 2012, notes the release of the “PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf), and provides a link to a Twitter Q+A with Jarrett and Gayle Smith, senior director for development and democracy (12/3).
U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Wanda Nesbitt writes in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, “Here in Namibia, the United States, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is working closely with the people and Government of Namibia to prevent new HIV infections, provide lifesaving HIV treatment to those who need it, and help put an end to AIDS in the country.” She discusses the recently released Blueprint for an AIDS-free Generation (.pdf), progress in Namibia’s AIDS response, and the transition period in which Namibia will take full responsibility for its HIV program. “We are proud to work with the government and people of Namibia to do our part toward achieving the goal of creating an AIDS-free generation. By investing smarter and working together, we will win this fight,” she writes (12/3).
BBC News examines HIV/AIDS in Iran, writing, “In the 2000s, Iran became known as the region’s leader in the fight against AIDS. Each year, the government allocates millions of dollars to prevent and manage the disease, and government-sponsored clinics across the country help battle it.” The news service continues, “Yet several HIV/AIDS activists and Iranians infected with the virus argue that efforts to control the epidemic have suffered major setbacks in recent years, mostly because of the weakening economy and the widespread stigma of the illness.”
“The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has signed a new grant agreement [with Tanzania] worth $308 million,” Devex’s “Development Newswire” reports. “The grant, signed Dec. 1, will help provide more than 660,000 Tanzanians access to antiretrovirals, HIV testing and counseling, and other health products for the next three years, according to a press release” from the Global Fund, the news service writes (Ravelo, 12/3). The press release states, “The grant will also allow the country to reach 96 percent of pregnant women with HIV testing and counseling, providing treatment for over 346,000 HIV-positive pregnant women to prevent HIV transmission to their babies by 2015.” The press release adds, “These results are being achieved through close collaboration with Tanzanian partners as well as with the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR program and other donors such as Germany through its bilateral cooperation” (12/1).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday announced the Obama administration’s “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf), which calls for a combination of prevention strategies including widespread treatment, “male circumcision, condom distribution and stopping transmission from mother to child,” NPR’s “Shots” blog reports. The blog notes the document does not describe the cost of the programs (Knox/Doucleff, 11/29). “[T]he global drive for austerity in developed economies, combined with sharp arguments about U.S. government spending, points to potential difficulties” in allocating funding to HIV/AIDS programs, the Daily Beast writes (Zeitlin, 12/1). U.S. “[f]unding for bilateral AIDS was $5.082 billion in fiscal 2012, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the government is currently operating on a continuing resolution based on that amount as the fiscal 2013 budget continues to be debated,” the Wall Street Journal reports, adding, “Sequestration, should that occur, would mean an [across-the-board discretionary] 8.2 percent cut” (McKay, 11/30).
On Saturday, December 1, “United Nations officials [marked] World AIDS Day with a call for building on recent successes and pressing ahead to get to zero — zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths — by 2015,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘On this World AIDS Day, let us commit to build on and amplify the encouraging successes of recent years to consign HIV/AIDS to the pages of history,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said [.pdf] in his message for the day,” the news service writes, noting UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said, “We have moved from despair to hope. Far fewer people are dying from AIDS.” The news service also includes quotes from Irina Bokova, director-general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake; and U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin (11/30).