“What does it take to get to zero? While reflecting on the theme of this past World AIDS Day (Getting to zero, Zero new infections, Zero discrimination, Zero deaths), I asked myself this question,” Lisa MacDonald, project manager at HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, writes in a Huffington Post Canada opinion piece. “The truth is that it takes a combined effort across multiple sectors, using multiple strategies and targeting multiple audiences,” she states. However, “one issue that cuts across all sectors is that of gender inequity and its role in shaping sexual relations and in determining life choices,” she continues.
IRIN reports on the HIV/AIDS response in Guinea-Bissau, writing, “One year after the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria reduced funding to the Guinea-Bissau government body in charge of coordinating HIV prevention and treatment activities, health centers outside the capital are facing medicine shortages, patients are not receiving the treatment they need, and the transport of patients to treatment centers has been cut.” According to the news service, “The Global Fund stopped most of its funding to the Secretriado National de Luta Contra le Sida (SNLS), the government structure in charge of coordinating the HIV response, at the end of 2011, because of poor performance management and a lack of transparent fiduciary controls.”
“Global efforts to reach the ‘three zeros’ for women and girls — zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths — are gaining momentum,” Michelle Bachelet, executive director of U.N. Women, Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, and Jennifer Gatsi Mallet, executive director of the Namibia Women’s Health Network, write in an Inter Press Service opinion piece. “Much of the progress we have seen is underpinned by the work of women living with HIV,” they write, detailing some of the progress. “Despite these gains, our efforts for women and girls remain inadequate — a message amplified by women living with HIV from around the world in the new report ‘Women out loud,'” the authors state.
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines the potential impacts of a proposed anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda, writing that the bill “would stand as an obstacle to both access to health care and to the ability of health care providers to even offer services,” making prevention of “the bill’s passage a matter of life and death, as well as of rights and dignity.” According to the blog, “The record of Uganda’s HIV fight, once hailed as a model and a success story, now showing the most alarming reverses in Africa, stands as testament to what happens to health responses in a setting where science, human rights, and the realities of the impact of discriminatory laws are ignored. In all of those, of course, Uganda is far from alone, raising the question of what the world’s greatest united humanitarian effort, the work to treat and prevent the spread of HIV, could achieve when those issues are addressed.” The blog briefly examines other countries’ anti-sodomy laws and proposed anti-homosexuality legislation (Barton, 12/10).
BBC News examines ongoing efforts to develop a female-controlled microbicide to prevent HIV infection. But so far, “efforts … have presented a great deal of frustration in the fight against this global epidemic,” the news service writes, detailing the history of some failed experiments. “According to the Microbicide Trials Network, there are currently nine different microbicide products in clinical trials,” BBC notes. Angela Obasi of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said, “In many parts of the world — especially in the parts of the world where HIV is most prevalent — there are gender status issues that make it very tricky for a woman to control the circumstances under which she is exposed to HIV. … So methods that are controlled by women give them a critically important power over the safety of their own bodies,” according to the news service (Gill, 12/8).
“Science is at the center of efforts to design and implement more effective preventative and care programs for HIV/AIDS set out in a blueprint published by a U.S. government initiative that fights the disease,” SciDev.Net reports, referencing the PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation that was released November 29. “Using science to evaluate initiatives, develop new interventions and find ways to keep people in treatment are some of the suggestions in the report,” the news service writes. “The blueprint is an attempt to take this science and translate it into policy and programs in a much more aggressive way,” David Haroz, special assistant to the principal deputy U.S. global AIDS coordinator and a co-author of the report, said, according to SciDev.Net. The news service discusses the contents of the blueprint and continues, “All actors, from regional governments to international organizations, such as the World Bank and the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria], need to apply its principles if it was to have the necessary impact, [Haroz] adds” (Piotrowski, 12/7).
As part of its ongoing series, titled “The State of AIDS,” GlobalPost published two articles examining the epidemic in different regions. In Eastern Europe, rates of HIV/AIDS diagnoses have risen in several countries, including Ukraine and Russia, according to the first article, which discusses some of the potential reasons for the increases. Also, “with the economic crisis affecting much of Western Europe, there is concern that declining health spending and cuts to research budgets could hurt AIDS treatment across the continent, even in nations that are leading the way in HIV/AIDS prevention and care like the United Kingdom,” the news service writes (Ames, 12/7).
“After three decades of global emergency responses and a series of scientific breakthroughs in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is now tempting to ask if we are marching towards the end of AIDS,” an editorial in the Lancet states. Noting the November 29 release of the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation, the Lancet writes, “The first and foremost signal the report has sent is that the U.S. commitment to the global AIDS response will continue to be ‘strong, comprehensive and driven by science,'” and the report “calls on partner countries, civil society, donors, foundations, multilateral institutions, and people living with HIV to step up together and make concrete commitments.” The editorial continues, “The vision of ‘an AIDS-free generation’ in the blueprint relies heavily on scientific and technological feasibility … However, eradicating a disease goes far beyond scientific advances, which will go unrealized without strong social support and public health actions as well as substantial and sustainable investments.”
New Public-Private Partnership Will Allow Brazil To Produce Patented ARV For National Treatment Program
For the first time, Brazil in 2013 will enter into a new type of public-private partnership that allows the nation to produce a generic version of the antiretroviral (ARV) drug atazanavir sulphate, which will be under patent through its producer Bristol-Myers Squibb until 2017, Inter Press Service reports. Under the “productive development partnership,” Farmanguinhos, “a technical-scientific unit of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and the Health Ministry’s largest pharmaceutical laboratory,” will make the drug, one of 20 ARVs the government distributes at a cost of about $425 million annually, according to the news service.
The “progress and momentum” behind stopping mother-to-child HIV transmission is “reason to celebrate,” Charles Lyons, president and CEO of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and Peter Twyman, CEO of Keep a Child Alive, write in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” However, “as we set our sights on an AIDS-free generation, we must once again ensure that children currently living with HIV are not left behind,” they state. “Unfortunately, we’re not seeing the same level of progress with access to services for children who are already living with the virus,” they write and describe the challenges children and their families face in gaining access to HIV treatment and care, including stigma and fear and a lack of antiretroviral drug formulations for children.