“With just over one year left to achieve its target of having some 1.1 million men circumcised as part of HIV prevention efforts, Kenya’s government is ramping up efforts to bring more men into clinics, compensating them for their time and encouraging them to bring friends in for the procedure,” IRIN reports. “Kenya has carried out an estimated 477,000 circumcisions since the program started in 2008, according to the government,” IRIN writes. “This figure does not include those in the private sector where voluntary medical male circumcision is also done,” Walter Obiero, the clinical manager at the Nyanza Reproductive Health Society, said, the news service adds. “In 2011, UNAIDS and [PEPFAR] launched a five-year plan to have more than 20 million men in 14 eastern and southern African countries undergo medical male circumcision by 2015,” IRIN notes, writing, “The government is considering integrating male circumcision, currently offered as part of its HIV prevention package, into outpatient services in public hospitals, as well as starting infant male circumcision, which studies have found to be cost-effective” (11/6).
The International AIDS Alliance, in collaboration with the Stop AIDS Alliance and STOP AIDS NOW!, has published “a discussion paper to help the HIV community to engage in” discussions surrounding the post-2015 development agenda, the International AIDS Alliance’s blog reports. “It is unclear at this stage how HIV and AIDS will be addressed in the new post-2015 development framework and the HIV sector could potentially lose out if HIV is not specifically addressed in it,” the blog states. The paper addresses issues such as universal health coverage, human rights and equity, and financing, and it offers suggestions on ways to engage with consultations (11/1).
As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features an interview with Rochelle Walensky, a member of the Cost-effectiveness of Preventing AIDS Complications (CEPAC) and of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council at the NIH/DHS Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. According to the transcript, she discusses the key elements she feels should be a part of the blueprint, notes the interventions she feels would be critical components of a combination prevention package, and examines the role research should play in the blueprint, among other topics (Barton, 11/1).
Noting the progress made since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the upcoming recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, Ronald Valdiserri, deputy assistant secretary for health, infectious diseases at the Department of Health and Human Services, writes in a Public Health Reports opinion piece (.pdf), “[W]e would do well to keep in mind the following caution. No matter the elegance of the controlled trial, the statistical significance of the results, or the superiority of the science, we must confront this inevitable reality: We will never be able to take full advantage of our progress in HIV clinical and prevention science until we develop and sustain the human, organizational, and structural capacities necessary to implement these new scientific breakthroughs.” He continues, “If we fail to attend to the ‘on-the-ground’ details of implementation, we risk dissipating the promise of new drugs, novel therapies, and enhanced interventions that could, in fact, lead us to an AIDS-free generation.”
KPLU 88.5’s “Humanosphere” blog reports on a meeting of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN), “the world’s largest HIV vaccine research network,” held in Seattle this week. “We actually don’t know what the agenda is,” HVTN Executive Director Jim Kublin said during a lecture, titled “Scientific Agenda, the Next Seven Years,” according to the blog. “But what makes it easier to laugh about not knowing where you’re going, he added, is that researchers today have a lot more tantalizing clues — beginning with the ground-breaking Thai vaccine trial known to this bunch as RV144,” the blog writes and describes the study (Paulson, 10/31).
As part of its “Blueprint” series discussing the creation of a U.S. global AIDS blueprint called for by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog features an opinion piece by Salmaan Keshavjee of Harvard Medical School and Partners In Health. With an estimated 1,000 people with HIV dying of tuberculosis (TB) every day, “[i]t is clear that our current approaches to addressing the global tuberculosis pandemic are inadequate,” he writes. Keshavjee says, “First, bold targets for reducing tuberculosis incidence and zero TB-HIV deaths must be prioritized in the blueprint. … Second, known strategies for stopping the spread of tuberculosis have to be actively implemented. … Lastly, any effective strategy has to ensure that HIV advocates at the community level are educated about the threat of tuberculosis,” and he describes each of his points in detail. He concludes, “The United States has shown visionary leadership in the area of HIV treatment and changed the lives of countless people for the better. It is time to take on tuberculosis with the same moral and pragmatic vigor” (Barton, 10/31).
The International HIV/AIDS Alliance has been providing technical support for UNAIDS since 2011 to assist policymakers in integrating human rights programs into National Strategic Plans for HIV (NSPs), the organization’s blog states and notes, “As part of the project, three regional workshops were held for: East and Southern Africa; the Middle East and North Africa; and the Asia/Pacific regions.” The blog continues, “The workshops aimed to increase participantsâ€™ knowledge of why human rights and HIV programs must be connected, and how a lack of integration is undermining the effectiveness of the HIV response.” A report, co-published by UNAIDS and the Alliance and titled “Making it Work,” provides “some short-term outcomes and lessons learnt from this initiative,” according to the blog (10/24).
The Associated Press examines access to antiretroviral treatment in Myanmar, which “ranks among the world’s hardest places to get HIV care, and health experts warn it will take years to prop up a broken health system hobbled by decades of neglect.” The country, also known as Burma, has been hindered by decades of rule by a military junta and economic sanctions imposed by developed countries, including the U.S., the AP notes, and writes, “Of the estimated 240,000 people living with HIV [in the country], half are going without treatment.” However, “as Myanmar wows the world with its reforms, the U.S. and other nations are easing sanctions,” the news agency writes, adding, “The Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] recently urged Myanmar to apply for more assistance that would make up the shortfall and open the door for HIV drugs to reach more than 75 percent of those in need by the end of 2015,” as well as medications to fight tuberculosis (TB). The AP details one man’s efforts to obtain antiretrovirals, which are reserved for patients with CD4 cell counts below 150 cells, versus the WHO recommended 350 (Mason, 10/22).
In the last of a series of posts on the U.K. Department for International Development’s (DfID) blog examining the department’s work in Malawi, Neil Squires, DfID head of profession for health, looks at the sustainability of the country’s HIV/AIDS program. “Malawi’s success in increasing access to antiretroviral drugs for HIV is highly dependent on donor funding for medicines,” he writes, adding, “Malawi has to actively consider its resource allocation in order to maximize the benefits and the health gained from the limited resources available.” He notes a report commissioned by UNAIDS on Malawi concluded that “unless Malawi can reduce the incidence of new infections, the scale up in access to antiretroviral drugs will not be sustainable in the medium to long term.” He concludes, “This is an important issue for the Government of Malawi, but also for the key donors who have supported the massive scale up in access to drugs, particularly the Global Fund. Malawi will need to maintain high levels of funding from the Global Fund if it is to maintain its supply of antiretroviral drugs” (10/23).
Speaking on Monday in Luanda, Angola, at the opening session of the inaugural meeting on Medical Education, sponsored by the Faculty of Medicine of Agostinho Neto University, WHO Regional Director for Africa Luis Gomes Sambo said communicable diseases account for 63 percent of deaths in Africa, with HIV and tuberculosis (TB) responsible for the majority of those, the Angola Press reports. Nonetheless, Africa has made significant progress against HIV/AIDS and malaria, as well as in improving child and maternal mortality, he said, according to the news service (10/22). Sambo also “said on Monday in Luanda that the population’s health depends on the provision of health care for those [in] need, as well as the efforts made by the society to protect, promote and re-establish the people’s well-being,” another article from Angola Press notes (10/23).