“India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday hailed the country’s success in slashing new HIV/AIDS infections by half in the past decade, but warned against complacency,” Agence France-Presse reports. Speaking at a conference on AIDS in New Delhi, Singh said the country’s HIV prevention program “can justifiably claim a measure of success,” but “there should be no room for complacency,” as an estimated 2.4 million Indians are living with the disease, according to AFP.
“We are entering a new era in HIV prevention. PEPFAR promoted a ‘combination prevention’ strategy from the beginning. But the tools were limited. Scientific advances could give individuals the ability to determine the prevention intervention that works best for them. Preliminary mathematical models suggest that combining a full range of prevention interventions is additive â€“ and could drive the epidemic down to a manageable level so that when a vaccine is available, it could mop up what remains,” former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Mark Dybul writes in a Huffington Post opinion piece.
“One of the great lessons of this fight is that the single fastest way to mobilize at the grassroots level around the world is through local congregations. Nothing comes close to the size and scope of this pool of compassionate volunteers,” Rick Warren, founder and pastor of the Saddleback Church, writes in a CNN opinion piece reflecting on his involvement in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
In his latest Washington Post opinion piece, columnist Michael Gerson highlights scientific efforts to create an AIDS vaccine, noting the work of researchers at the Vaccine Research Center.
Thirty years have passed since the first reported case of AIDS, and “we now have an unprecedented opportunity, based on solid scientific data, to control and ultimately end the AIDS pandemic,” after decades of the idea being “a distant aspiration because we lacked sufficient evidence-based tools to convert the hope to reality,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, writes in a Science editorial.
In a Daily Independent opinion piece, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Terence McCulley writes that after “truly historic” elections in April, “[t]he Nigerian Government faces complex challenges in the post-election environment. Security, electricity, good roads, education and reliable health care top most people’s lists of immediate concerns.”
Ambassador Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, said that a recent $75 million pledge from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Chevron and Johnson & Johnson could help “eliminate new HIV-infected children by 2015 and keep mothers alive,” McClatchy/News & Observer reports.
“Cash-strapped Swaziland’s state hospitals have only two months’ supplies of AIDS drugs, the country’s health minister has told parliament in an assessment that AIDS patients and activists took as a death sentence,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports. More than 60,000 Swazis receive antiretroviral medicine at no cost from state-run hospitals.
Emmanuel Njeuhmeli, a senior biomedical prevention advisor in the USAID Office of HIV/AIDS, discusses efforts to raise awareness about male circumcision as a “cost saving and effective form of HIV prevention” in a post on USAID’s “Impact Blog.” Njeuhmeli highlights a video that “examines the expansion of male circumcision as an HIV prevention intervention and tells the story of how governments and communities in Kenya and Swaziland have embraced [voluntary medical male circumcision] in their countries. The goal of the film is to show that VMMC services can be replicated and expanded to reach the critical mass needed for maximum public health impact” (6/27).
NPR’s Morning Edition on Monday examined how a circumcision program in South Africa’s Kwa-Zulu Natal, run by the Society for Family Health at the Boom Street Community Health Clinic, “is gaining momentum” because of a decree issued last year by King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu about the importance of circumcision in helping to reduce the risk of HIV infection.