Inter Press Service examines how HIV/AIDS is affecting women in western Nepal, where life in the poor region “is getting worse thanks to HIV infection brought back by men who go to neighboring India for seasonal work.” According to IPS, “Worst hit are the region’s women, many of whom have had to sell off their land and livestock to get HIV treatment for their husbands and, in many cases, for themselves.” Some women who are widowed by HIV may find work as laborers, but the “social stigma attached to HIV and fears of contracting the virus among villagers” makes life difficult for women affected by HIV/AIDS, the news service notes. The article includes quotes from several women and community health workers involved in prevention, counseling and care of women affected by the disease. “According to the government’s National Centre for AIDS and STD Control (NCASC), women in the 15-49 age group form over 28 percent of the estimated 55,000 people living with HIV in the country,” IPS writes (Newar, 4/11).
The Guardian examines the HIV epidemic in Swaziland, writing, “While neighboring countries have made inroads against the disease, the mountain kingdom of one million people continues to suffer setbacks, partly due to cultural norms around sexuality being exacerbated by a financial crisis.” According to the news service, Swaziland has “the highest HIV rate in the world, with more than one in four adults estimated to be carrying the virus.”
Discontinuing Antibiotic Used To Prevent Opportunistic Infections Among HIV Patients Could Increase Risk Of Malaria, Diarrhea
“Abruptly discontinuing co-trimoxazole — an antibiotic used to prevent opportunistic infections in HIV-positive people — can lead to a higher incidence of malaria and diarrhea compared with patients who keep on taking the drug,” according to a study conducted by the CDC in eastern Uganda and published by the Oxford Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases in March, PlusNews reports. “The researchers found that 72 percent of the 315 cases of fever reported by study participants occurred among those who had stopped taking co-trimoxazole prophylaxis, and they were also nearly twice more likely to report diarrhea,” the news service notes.
Medical aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has expressed concern over proposed cuts to PEPFAR under the White House FY 2013 budget proposal, “saying it will undermine the president’s own goals” of “treat[ing] six million people infected with HIV around the world by the end of 2013,” VOA News reports. While President Obama “has pledged to expand PEPFAR to include more people, his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2013 cuts more than a half-billion dollars from” bilateral HIV/AIDS programs, VOA writes.
The Associated Press/Huffington Post reports on how communications engineers are joining the fight against AIDS in Africa, highlighting a project in Mozambique that brings wireless printers equipped with cell phone technology to remote villages. “Getting AIDS test results from labs to remote villages once took weeks in Mozambique, with the information sent by courier along the impoverished country’s terrible roads. The delay could mean death,” the news agency writes, adding, “Now, communications engineers have adapted office printers and cell-phone technology to wirelessly and immediately relay test results.”
Inexpensive Female Genital Schistosomiasis Prevention Could Help Reduce Women’s Risk Of HIV Infection
In this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post, Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, describes female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), which affects more than 100 million women and girls in Africa and “causes horrific pain and bleeding in the uterus, cervix and lower genital tract, not to mention social stigma and depression.” According to studies, women affected by FGS “have a three- to four-fold increase in the risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS,” but a low-cost drug called praziquantel may prevent FGS “and therefore also serve as a low-cost AIDS prevention strategy if it is administered annually to African girls and women beginning in their school-aged years,” he notes.
In this post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby provides an update on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, stating, “I am buoyed by the reform that is happening at the Fund under the leadership of new General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo.” He adds, “When PEPFAR and the Fund coordinate, our investments against AIDS are expanded both geographically and programmatically. Simply put, a strong PEPFAR requires a strong Global Fund.” Goosby concludes, “I am proud of the U.S. commitment to the Global Fund, in part because it is a commitment to the work of PEPFAR. We have a unique opportunity in a tight fiscal environment to support the Fund at this critical juncture” (4/9).
The WHO “recently published a ‘Programmatic Update’ [.pdf] on the use of antiretrovirals (ARVs) to treat pregnant women and prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT),” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “According to the executive summary, the WHO has started a comprehensive revision of all ARV guidelines, to include ARVs for pregnant women, which it plans to release in early 2013,” the blog notes (Mazzotta, 4/9).
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, David de Ferranti, president of the Results for Development Institute, and Robert Hecht, managing director at the Institute, examine whether patent pools could help increase access to AIDS drugs among the world’s poor, writing, “AIDS program managers and advocates must pursue all measures that can keep the cost of treatment low and affordable. In addition to the actions that are already being taken — like having African governments and donors buy AIDS drugs in bulk from suppliers in order to obtain better prices — could a ‘patent pool’ for new drugs help to make AIDS treatment more accessible?”
A new analysis from amfAR (.doc), The Foundation for AIDS Research, “estimates potential human impacts of funding changes [in global health programs] proposed in the President’s fiscal year 2013 budget request when compared to current operating budget levels (fiscal year 2012).” President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request includes a decrease in funding for PEPFAR and an increase in funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, according to the analysis, which concludes, “Taken together, proposed changes in funding for the Global Fund and PEPFAR could lead to significant reductions in lifesaving AIDS treatment delivery, services to orphans and other vulnerable children, prevention of vertical HIV transmission (from mother-to-child) services, and HIV testing services that could otherwise have been delivered with flat funding for PEPFAR” (April 2012).