The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on Tuesday released a report (.pdf) reflecting on lessons learned at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), which took place in Washington, D.C., in July, J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center at CSIS reports in the center’s “Smart Global Health” blog. Morrison notes, “In the year leading up to the conference, CSIS played the unusual role of assembling a diverse high-level advisory group to assist the lead organizers in navigating the special challenges in the Washington political environment.” The report, titled “Lessons Learned from AIDS 2012,” examines “what AIDS 2012 achieved, why the CSIS advisory group was formed, what accounts for its impacts, and what that experience may foretell for future International AIDS Conferences,” Morrison writes in the blog (11/27).
AVAC Report Calls For Greater Access To Combination Prevention Strategies, Protection Of Research Funding
AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention on Tuesday “released its annual report that calls for an ambitious pace of funding, implementation, and research,” VOA News reports, noting the report, titled “Achieving the End: One Year and Counting,” “calls for a three-part agenda for ending AIDS: Deliver, Demonstrate, and Develop” (DeCapua, 11/27). The report’s recommendations “address urgent, unresolved challenges that threaten the delivery of powerful new HIV prevention methods that could help dramatically reduce the 2.5 million new HIV infections that occur worldwide every year,” an AVAC press release states, continuing, “They include critical actions to speed access to HIV treatment, voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and to safeguard vital new research on vaccines, microbicides, other HIV prevention options and a cure.” According to the press release, AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren said, “Right now, the world isn’t moving as fast as it should be to begin ending the epidemic. There is still time to get back on a winning pace but only with focused, aggressive action now. This can be the year that HIV prevention begins to achieve its potential — in fact, it has to be” (11/27).
In the Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” blog, Ward Cates, president emeritus of FHI 360, examines the HIV treatment cascade, which he says “is crucial both to assuring the individual’s health and to achieving the public health goal of an AIDS-free generation.” The first step in the cascade is HIV testing, which determines whether an individual should be referred for and receive HIV care and treatment, he notes, adding, “We can use the cascade model to help gain accurate assessments of the ‘leakage points’ in the HIV care and treatment system. By knowing where in the cascade we need to focus, we can provide additional incentives for patients and resources for providers to improve retention.” Cates describes several novel prevention technologies, highlights programs in different countries working to bring people into the cascade, and concludes, “As we pause to reflect on 2012’s World AIDS Day, let’s resolve to get everyone on board to make the most of the tools we have. We can conquer this disease” (11/27).
Emmanuel Njeuhmeli, senior biomedical prevention adviser in the USAID Office of HIV/AIDS, writes in the agency’s “IMPACTblog” that the first International Men’s Day on November 19 was an opportunity to “recognize and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of men in East and Southern Africa who are stepping up for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) to protect their own health and that of their families.” He continues, “We also recognize the political, traditional and community leaders who are leading the charge in their countries and local communities.” According to Njeuhmeli, who describes some VMMC programs of USAID and PEPFAR, “USAID and UNAIDS have estimated that VMMC has the potential to avert more than 3.4 million new HIV infections in 14 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, and save an estimated $16.5 billion in care and treatment over the next 15 years, freeing up resources for other crucial HIV interventions” (11/27).
“The world has lost momentum in the fight against the AIDS epidemic, with millions of new people infected last year, the ONE foundation said in a report,” titled “The Beginning of the End? Tracking Global Commitments on AIDS” and released on Tuesday, Reuters reports. In its annual report last week, UNAIDS said despite advances in access to medicines that both treat and prevent HIV infection, 2.5 million new cases of HIV occurred in 2011, according to the news service. “That is more than double the target of having only 1.1 million people newly infected each year, said ONE,” according to Reuters.
“At least seven nude protesters stormed House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office in the Longworth House Office Building on Tuesday, according to reports from Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo and others who were there,” the Huffington Post reports (Klapper, 11/27). “The activists were protesting proposed budget cuts to AIDS funding that could be included in the looming fiscal cliff,” MSNBC’s “The Last Word” writes, adding, “They painted their bodies with slogans, such as ‘AIDS cuts kill’ and ‘Fund PEPFAR'” (Godburn, 11/27). The protesters are “members of the group ACT UP — which saw its heyday in the 1980s,” the New York Times’ “Debt Reckoning” notes (Weisman, 11/27).
“As World AIDS Day 2012 approaches, it is a timely opportunity to reflect on what we learned at this year’s International AIDS Conference” and recognize “[t]he United States, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has been a remarkable vehicle in this fight, employing sound science to offer the highest quality interventions and treatment,” Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), writes in the AIDS.gov blog. Daulaire discusses how “[t]o ensure long-term sustainability, PEPFAR country programs and its implementing agencies are transforming their partnerships so that countries direct, implement, and evaluate their own responses with strong U.S. support,” and elaborates on the “four key dimensions of country ownership.” He concludes, “HHS is committed to continue implementing PEPFAR programs in partnership with countries and civil society as they build a sustainable response to global AIDS and work towards achieving an AIDS-free generation” (11/26).
“China’s Health Ministry has banned hospitals from turning away patients infected with HIV/AIDS,” the Associated Press/Fox News reports. “A circular issued by the ministry on Friday ordered health authorities at all level of government to guarantee treatment for HIV/AIDS sufferers,” the news service writes (11/23). According to Xinhua, the memo “said hospitals should offer appropriate medical care to an HIV/AIDS patient whose condition is discovered during the course of outpatient, inpatient, and emergency treatments, as well as voluntary HIV/AIDS counseling and testing,” and “[h]ospitals should not send them to another hospital or refuse to treat them” (11/23). “The move comes after a 25-year-old lung cancer patient in Tianjin, a major port city south east of Beijing, was recently denied care after his status as an HIV/AIDS patient was detected, Xinhua said,” Agence France-Presse notes, adding, “Chinese authorities have been credited with increasing access to HIV/AIDS drugs for patients, though widespread discrimination is still a problem” (11/24).
“Cellphones, those tiny gateways to modernity, have recently allowed prostitutes [in India] to shed the shackles of brothel madams and strike out on their own,” the New York Times reports, adding, “But that independence has made prostitutes far harder for government and safe-sex counselors to trace. And without the advice and free condoms those counselors provide, prostitutes and their customers are returning to dangerous ways.” According to studies, “prostitutes who rely on cellphones are more susceptible to HIV because they are far less likely than their brothel-based peers to require their clients to wear condoms,” the newspaper writes. The New York Times says a government program that provided condom advocacy posters in an area traditionally known for its concentration of brothels worked, “[b]ut now that mobile phones are untethering prostitution from brothels, those targeted measures are threatened” (Harris, 11/24).
UNAIDS’ World AIDS Day report: Results, released on Tuesday, said the goal of eventually ending the global AIDS epidemic “is more than merely visionary” and “is entirely feasible,” primarily because of “historic success” in scaling up HIV programs and improving access to antiretroviral drugs to treat and prevent HIV, Reuters reports (Kelland, 11/20). According to the report, “[t]wenty-five countries, many in hard-hit Africa, have at least halved new HIV infections in the past decade, with particular progress made toward protecting children from the deadly virus,” Agence France-Presse writes (11/20). “UNAIDS says that half the global reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among newborn children,” PlusNews writes. “But the epidemic is not over in any part of the world, and is gaining pace in some,” the news service continues, noting the number of new infections has increased in the Middle East and North Africa (11/20). The report “stresses that countries must dramatically ramp up both [prevention and treatment efforts] if the world hopes to meet the ambitious goals agreed upon last year at a special session of the United Nations,” ScienceInsider writes (Cohen, 11/20).