Writing in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog, (RED) CEO Deborah Dugan reflects on World AIDS Day, observed annually on December 1. “World AIDS Day presents an opportunity every year to raise the profile of the pandemic and remind people of the havoc it’s wreaked in its 31 years of existence,” Dugan states, adding, “The date also gives us a responsibility to make as much noise as we can about the disease — to remind people that it’s still one of the deadliest health issues for people in sub-Saharan Africa — and in a domino effect, a huge threat to economic traction in countries worst affected.” She highlights a new (RED) campaign called DANCE (RED), SAVE LIVES which “[brings] together some of the biggest names in dance music” in an effort to “engage with and channel today’s youth.” According to the blog, the post “was produced by the Huffington Post and (RED) as part of a series recognizing World AIDS Day” (11/28).
Recognizing World AIDS Day is December 1, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe David Bruce Wharton writes in a Herald opinion piece, “Ending AIDS is a shared responsibility. … Everyone has a role to play — government leaders, the private sector, multilateral organizations, civil society, media, faith-based organizations, and each one of us.” Noting the U.S. has invested nearly $300 million in the fight against HIV in Zimbabwe since 2000 and plans to contribute $92 million more to the country through PEPFAR over the next year, Wharton says, “Through PEPFAR, the United States is working closely with Zimbabwe to build the country’s capacity to lead an effective national response” and increase “country ownership.”
“HIV is the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age,” and without HIV, “maternal mortality worldwide would be 20 percent lower,” Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the Board of the TB ACTION Group, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. She says that women “often face barriers accessing HIV treatment and care,” adding she recently “was struck with the significant role the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] has played in reducing women’s barriers to treatment.”
Leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1, the AIDS.gov blog published several pieces discussing progress in reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation. The pieces are summarized below.
“The number of new HIV/AIDS cases in China jumped in the first 10 months of the year, as premier-in-waiting Li Keqiang promised to let non-governmental groups play a bigger role in fighting an epidemic spreading fast in vulnerable groups,” Reuters reports. “The number of new AIDS cases rose almost 13 percent in the January to October period, compared with the same period the previous year, while the number of people infected with HIV aged 50 and above leapt more than 20 percent, the official Xinhua news agency said,” Reuters writes (Blanchard, 11/28). The number of new HIV cases among people aged 15 to 24 rose 12.8 percent from the previous year, according to the health ministry, Xinhua reports, noting nearly 85 percent of new cases occurred through sexual transmission.
“As we look forward to World AIDS Day this year, I’m amazed at how far we’ve come in the battle against HIV and how effectively U.S. government agencies continue to work collaboratively towards an AIDS-free generation,” Richard Shaffer, director of the U.S. Department of Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, writes in the AIDS.gov blog. “At the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP) we support HIV prevention programs around the world — in 70 countries — providing and expanding HIV prevention, care, and treatment support for active-duty military personnel, dependent family members and surrounding civilian communities,” Shaffer notes and provides a recap of the program’s work since its inception (11/27).
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).