“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday unveiled a game plan for achieving a global ‘AIDS-free generation,’ committing the United States to rapidly scaling up medical interventions that are beating back what once was seen as an unconquerable disease,” Reuters reports (Quinn, 11/29). “Clinton announced the plan, officially titled the ‘President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation,’ [.pdf] at the State Department, two days ahead of World AIDS Day,” CNN notes (Ariosto, 11/29). The 54-page blueprint — “immediately welcomed by AIDS researchers and advocates” — aims “to treat as many people as possible, both to keep them well and to help keep them from infecting others” and will target high-risk populations, such as drug users, gay men, and sex workers, NBC News’ “Vitals” blog writes. The blog notes Clinton released new PEPFAR data (.pdf) showing the program has provided antiretroviral treatment to more than five million people worldwide (Fox, 11/29). “The report from [PEPFAR] states that the world is at a ‘tipping point’ on AIDS, and promises to usher in a generation free of the disease,” The Hill’s “Healthwatch” blog states (Viebeck, 11/29). Once the number of people on treatment surpasses the number of new infections every year, “[w]e will then get ahead of the pandemic and an AIDS-free generation will be in our sight,” Clinton said, Politico Pro reports (Smith, 11/29). The Washington Post adds, “But she warned: ‘Now we have to deliver. … The history of global health is littered with grand plans that never panned out'” (Brown, 11/29).
“‘Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination’ is the theme of World AIDS Day 2012,” observed annually on December 1, a WHO media note reports. “Given the spread of the epidemic today, getting to zero may sound difficult but significant progress is underway,” the media note states, and discusses progress towards and obstacles to achieving this goal (11/29).
Noting the theme of World AIDS Day this year is “Getting to Zero,” entertainer Alicia Keys, co-founder and global ambassador of the Keep a Child Alive Foundation, writes in the Skoll Foundation’s “World Forum,” “We want to get to that number so badly, and we fight for that goal day in and day out. But this year, I’d like to see us add what you might call a sub-theme — ‘Getting to Zero: With Women and Girls.'” She continues, “Women and girls have shouldered the burden of HIV for decades — as sisters, mothers, daughters, caregivers, and above all, as beacons of strength and resilience in the face of adversity,” adding, “When we’re offering our resources abroad and at home, we need to make sure women and girls are given the tools they need to eradicate HIV and stop the cycle of suffering it causes” (11/28).
In a joint initiative headed by GBC Health, UNAIDS, and Levis Strauss & Co., more than 40 CEOs have signed a pledge urging 45 countries to repeal policies and laws restricting travel for people living with HIV, TakePart.com reports (Doheny, 11/28). “CEOs oppose HIV travel restrictions because they are discriminatory and because to succeed in today’s globalized economy, companies must be able to send their employees and best talent overseas, regardless of their HIV status,” according to a joint press release. Forty-five countries, including key hubs for international business, “still deny entry, stay, residence or work visas for people living with HIV,” the press release notes (11/28). Restrictions in some countries “also include denial of work visas, disallowing short-term stays for business trips or conferences, and blocking longer-term stays, such as residence-for-work relocations and study-abroad programs, according to UNAIDS,” the U.N. News Centre writes (11/28).
Secretary Clinton To Unveil PEPFAR Blueprint At Event On Thursday; White House Event To Commemorate World AIDS Day
“On Thursday November 29, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will commemorate World AIDS Day 2012 and unveil the PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation that provides a roadmap for how the U.S. government will work to help achieve an AIDS-free generation,” a Department of State press notice reports, noting, “Secretary Clinton will be joined by Ambassador Eric P. Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.” According to the notice, the event will take place at 10:30am EST in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the Department of State and will be streamed live at http://www.state.gov (11/27). The White House will host a separate event in observance of the day on Thursday at 1:00pm EST, which will be streamed live at White House Live, according to the webpage (11/29).
Writing in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., and Kenneth Cole, CEO of Kenneth Cole Productions and chair of the Board of amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, discuss why some CEOs oppose HIV travel bans. “Restrictions based only on positive HIV status deny the entry, stay, residence or work visas for people living with HIV, even though the HIV virus can’t be transmitted through casual contact,” they write, adding, “These laws and policies not only violate human rights and don’t protect the public health, they also harm a business’s bottom line.”
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.