“The Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) are committed to advancing the rights and health of women and girls around the world,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer write in this post in the State Department “DipNote” blog, commemorating International Women’s Day, which was observed on March 8. “Promoting the rights of women and addressing gender inequities and gender norms are essential steps to reducing HIV risk and increasing access to HIV prevention, care and treatment services — for both women and men,” they add (3/14).
A joint fact sheet on the U.S.-U.K. Partnership for Global Development is available on the White House website. “Through the Partnership, we are working together to achieve better results by advancing economic growth; preventing conflict in fragile states; improving global health, particularly for girls and women; strengthening mutual accountability, transparency, and measurement of results; and mitigating the effects of climate change,” the fact sheet states, elaborating on joint efforts in each of these areas (3/14).
Progress In AIDS Fight Must Be An Impetus For Increasing Investment, Sustaining Advancements In Africa
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe examines the role of the fight against AIDS in sustaining economic and social development in Africa. “Africa is breaking records,” he writes, noting the economic growth, increased access to information, rise in democracy, decline in poverty, increased school enrollment — especially for girls — and decline in AIDS-related deaths on the continent. “Africa is now poised to push towards a new vision of: zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths,” and “it needs everyone’s support,” he continues.
An antiretroviral (ARV) drug given to HIV-positive children “can boost the preventive power of a key malaria drug,” according to a study conducted in Uganda and presented last week at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, ScienceNow reports. The researchers, led by clinicians Diane Havlir of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Moses Kamya of Makerere University College of Health Sciences, “compare[d] two different cocktails of anti-HIV drugs, only one of which contained protease inhibitors, in HIV-infected children who live in a malarial area of [Uganda]” and found “that one protease inhibitor indeed helped stave off malaria.”
In this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy for amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, responds to a recently released analysis of adult mortality rates in African countries, which “found that between 2004 and 2008, in those nations where the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was most active, the odds of death were about 20 percent lower than in other countries in the region.” He writes, “It was one more piece in the growing collection of evidence that PEPFAR has been a tremendously successful program, advancing U.S. humanitarian and diplomatic priorities and saving millions of lives.” Collins continues, “That is why the proposal in President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget to cut bi-lateral HIV programming through PEPFAR by nearly $550 million, or 11 percent, has stunned so many on Capitol Hill and in the global health community.”
In this RH Reality Check blog post, Mandy Van Deven, online administrator for International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), discusses how PROFAMILIA-Dominican Republic, an IPPF/WHR member association, “has integrated HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and testing into its extensive clinical sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services.” She writes, “There are two key elements to PROFAMILIA’s integrated approach: a focus on a broad range of vulnerable groups — from youth to women and immigrant populations — and a staunch commitment to fighting the stigma, discrimination and gender-based violence often associated with an HIV-positive status” (3/13).
In this Globe and Mail opinion piece, columnist Andre Picard examines the efforts of a new group, the Global Congenital Syphilis Partnership — which includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Save The Children, the CDC, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the WHO — to “make screening for syphilis a routine part of pregnancy care with the goal of eliminating congenital syphilis.” Picard writes, “According to the World Health Organization, some 2.1 million women with syphilis give birth every year,” and notes, “Almost 70 percent of their babies are stillborn, and many of the rest suffer from low birth weight (putting them at great risk for a host of illnesses), hearing loss, vision loss and facial deformities.”
“As Southern African policymakers gather in London this month to discuss strategies for reducing new HIV infections in children, [freelance writer] Karen McColl reports on an initiative that uses affected mothers to provide support” in this BMJ feature article. BMJ provides a brief history of how the mothers2mothers (m2m) initiative — established by obstetrician Mitch Besser and colleagues to develop a model of peer education and psychosocial support — developed, writing, “What started as a few mothers providing education and support to their peers has now evolved, 10 years on, into an international program operating on 589 sites in seven countries” and “now employs 1,457 mentor mothers” (3/12).
PSI’s “Healthy Lives” blog presents global health-related excerpts of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s annual letter that was published on March 9. Shah touches on programs to improve infant and child health; water, sanitation and hygiene; malaria prevention; HIV/AIDS care; and health care in several countries, including Afghanistan, Ghana and Ethiopia, according to the blog (3/9).
“The rising enthusiasm for providing more medicines threatens to come at the expense of promising initiatives for preventing HIV infections in the first place — initiatives that could save many lives, with less money,” Craig Timberg, the newspaper’s deputy national security editor, and Daniel Halperin, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, write in this Washington Post opinion piece. “Ambitious treatment efforts and smart prevention programs are, of course, not inherently at odds. But especially in an era of fiscal constraint, these two goals could come into conflict,” they write, continuing, “The result, wasteful in dollars spent and lives diminished, would represent only the latest misjudgment by powerful donor nations such as the United States, which still struggle to understand the root causes of an epidemic that has spread most widely in weaker, poorer nations.”