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Nature Examines How Funding Shortfalls Are Hindering Efforts To Use Drugs To Curb HIV Spread

Nature examines how funding shortfalls are hampering global efforts to use drugs to curb the spread of HIV, writing, “[A]t this week’s annual Conference on Retro­viruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, Washington, there was growing concern that financial austerity in the United States and elsewhere is eating away at the funding needed for a worldwide prevention effort.” The journal cites proposed reductions “to direct international aid for HIV programs under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)” in President Barack Obama’s FY 2013 budget request and an announcement by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last November that it had cancelled Round 11 grants “until 2014 because of tightening budgets in donor countries.”

Many Ethiopians Coming To Camp In Search Of Traditional Cure For HIV Turn To ARVs, WSJ Reports

The Wall Street Journal examines how many HIV-positive Ethiopians coming to a “squatter’s camp” at Ethiopia’s Entoto Mountain in the hopes that a spring believed to contain holy water would cure HIV instead begin treatment with antiretrovirals (ARVs). “The country’s traditional and often superstitious views toward AIDS commonly lead to exile for the disease’s sufferers,” the newspaper writes, adding, “But modern methods are gaining more purchase, in recent years resulting in a greater number of Ethiopians on antiretroviral therapy and a decline in AIDS-related deaths.”

Ukraine Security Secretary Says HIV, TB Remain Threat To Nation’s Security, Encourages Cooperation With Global Fund

Speaking about two bills concerning Ukraine’s cooperation with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Ukraine Secretary of National Security and Defense Council Andriy Kliuyev said “[t]he epidemics of AIDS and tuberculosis [TB] remain a threat to national security in Ukraine and require redoubled efforts to treat and prevent these diseases,” Interfax reports. Submitted to Ukraine’s parliament by the Cabinet of Ministers, the two bills “propos[e] to exempt from taxes and duties all transactions connected with the use of grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Ukraine,” the news agency notes. “The NSDC secretary said the state should explore every avenue to minimize the sickness rate and create conditions for the treatment and prevention of dangerous diseases, adding that the grants of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are valuable support for Ukraine,” Interfax writes (3/3).

Russia Should Abandon ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Approach To Drug Use And Implement Proven Prevention Strategies

Why have effective, “simple tools such as Medication Assisted Therapy (methadone, buprenorphine) and clean needle-exchange services” — methods that are “very effective in decreasing drug abuse and reducing risk of infection with HIV, hepatitis C and other diseases” – “had so little impact on the policies and programs of the Russian Federation?” Bertrand Audoin, executive director of the International AIDS Society, and Chris Beyrer, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, write in this New York Times opinion piece. With an “estimated number of injecting drug users [at] 1.8 million, and the estimated number of opiate users exceed[ing] 1.6 million,” and more than one million people living with HIV, “Russia now accounts for two thirds of the Eastern Europe and Central Asian HIV epidemic, the fastest growing in the world,” they write.

AIDS Advocacy Groups Ask Obama To Reconsider FY13 Budget Request For PEPFAR

“Nine global HIV/AIDS advocacy organizations sent a letter [.pdf] to President Obama Thursday asking him to rethink his fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget recommendation to slash $546 million in funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. The groups, which include AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, the HIV Medicine Association, and POZ Magazine, noted the request “recommended funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria at $1.65 billion — keeping the U.S. on track to reach its three-year commitment of $4 billion by 2013,” but in the letter stated, “[W]e must and we do strongly object to the apparent shoring up of the Global Fund budget request at the expense of the PEPFAR program. … These two programs are synergistic and often provide complementary services to the same communities,” the blog notes (Mazzotta, 3/2).

Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Lauded For Undergoing Voluntary HIV Counseling, Testing And Male Circumcision

“More than 170 [of Zimbabwe’s] parliamentarians from across the political divide have resolved to undergo voluntary counseling and HIV testing in a bid to encourage the grassroots to follow suit,” and “the 150 male members in the 175-member group have also resolved to be circumcised,” a Herald editorial states. “Members of Parliament are regarded as role models whose power of influence in society is immense,” the editorial writes, adding, “And as leaders, their message is readily received particularly if it is coupled by exemplary behavior in the communities they serve.”

Blog Summarizes Clinton’s Congressional Testimony On Administration’s FY13 Budget Request

Will McKitterick, a research assistant with the Center for Global Development (CGD), in this “Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance” blog post summarizes Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “grueling marathon of Congressional committee hearings in defense of the FY2013 international affairs budget request.” The nine hours of hearings “ran the gamut of U.S. priorities in national security and foreign policy,” McKitterick writes, adding, “Congressional leaders seemed alarmed by reductions in global health spending and raised specific concerns over the administration’s ability to meet its commitments to its PEPFAR goal of placing six million people on life-sustaining treatment by 2013. Secretary Clinton assured the committees that cuts would be balanced by consolidating programs, finding efficiencies, improving partners’ capacity, and shifting more responsibilities to host countries” (3/2).

Male Circumcision Initiative In Kenya Fails To Meet Target For First Time, PlusNews Reports

“Kenya’s most recent male circumcision rapid results initiative failed to meet its target, and officials are stepping up efforts to identify and fix the problems that could foil the government’s campaign to circumcise more than one million men by 2013,” PlusNews reports. “Conducted between November and December 2011, the initiative aimed to circumcise 70,000 men over a 30-day period, but results released in February show that only 40,000 men were circumcised,” the news service writes, adding, “This is the first time the annual initiative — which began in 2008 — has failed to reach its target.”

WHO Reports More Than 900,000 Lives Saved Because Of HIV/TB Care And Prevention Guidelines, Releases Updated Version

“An estimated 910,000 lives were saved globally in six years due to guidelines intended to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS are protected from tuberculosis [TB], the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today, releasing an updated policy on joint prevention, diagnosis and treatment of both diseases,” the U.N. News Centre reports (3/2). “The number of HIV-positive people screened for TB rose almost 12-fold, from nearly 200,000 in 2005 to more than 2.3 million in 2010, the WHO said, as it released data on the impact of its 2004 guidelines on TB and HIV,” Reuters reports (3/2).

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Urges Lawmakers To Be Tested For HIV, Publicly Reveal Status As Part Of New Initiative

In an announcement launching the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against HIV (ZIPAH) in Harare on Thursday, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said since he came to office in 1980 “quite a number of” his cabinet ministers have died of AIDS-related causes, and he challenged government officials to get tested for HIV and publicly reveal their status, the Zimbabwean reports (3/1). Chaired by lawmaker Blessing Chebundo, ZIPAH “aims to end HIV transmission among legislators and increase cooperation with other groups,” according to VOA News, and “so far 175 parliamentarians, including 25 staff members, have joined the program.” Chebundo “said the first public testing will take place in two months,” the news service notes.

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