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Need To Invest In New HIV Prevention Methods Remains ‘Urgent,’ International Microbicides Conference Hears

“Although the research for new HIV prevention technologies has indeed made some progress, … a formidable way lies ahead to find enough money to finish the research and to make ‘from discovery to delivery’ a reality for those in need of protecting themselves from HIV,” New Zealand’s Scoop reports. “This issue of health financing of new HIV prevention technologies was in spotlight at the closing day plenary of the International Microbicides Conference (M2012) in Sydney, Australia,” the news service adds.

U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Tells GlobalPost State Department Reviewing Nearly $1.5B In Unused PEPFAR Funding

Prompted by an inquiry from GlobalPost, U.S. officials have said the Obama administration called for a $550 million reduction — an 11 percent cut — for its global AIDS program in its FY 2013 budget request because the “government didn’t need more money because there has been nearly $1.5 billion stuck in the pipeline for 18 months or more,” GlobalPost reports. According to the news service, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, headed by Ambassador Eric Goosby, “said this week it will immediately start a consultation period with Congress, its partners across the U.S. government and AIDS advocates to address a key question: What should they do with $1.46 billion?” GlobalPost reports that Goosby “explained that $1.46 billion designated to fight AIDS hasn’t been used because of inefficient bureaucracies; major reductions in the cost of AIDS treatment; delays due to long negotiations on realigning programs with recipient country priorities; and a slowdown in a few countries because the AIDS problem was much smaller than originally estimated” (Donnelly, 4/17).

WHO Releases Guidance On Couples Testing, Counseling, Including ART For Discordant Couples

The WHO on Wednesday released its new 54-page “Guidance on couples HIV testing and counselling, including antiretroviral therapy (ART) for treatment and prevention in serodiscordant couples: Recommendations for a public health approach,” according to the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog. “Intended for national policymakers and relevant health program managers in low- and middle-income countries with generalized HIV epidemics, the guidelines were set to be released at the International AIDS Conference in Rome last July, but delayed in order to consider results from two clinical trials looking at ART use as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) that showed a strong prevention benefit, as well as the relevance of couples counseling and testing among pairs who are men who have sex with men (MSM) and/or inject drugs,” the blog notes. The guidance “also touches on recent evidence that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) with some antiretrovirals taken in discordant couples can help to prevent sexual acquisition of HIV, and notes that the WHO is reviewing this data and hopes to have a ‘rapid advice’ document on PrEP available sometime this year to help guide programs in discordant couples and in MSM communities,” the blog states (Mazzotta, 4/18).

Blog Examines Potential Effects Of AIDS Funding Cuts, Shortfalls

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines a memorandum (.pdf) from the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), distributed “to a targeted list of congressional leaders with jurisdiction over PEPFAR or the appropriations committees that fund it,” “that makes the case for continued funding for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program at least at fiscal year (FY) 2012 funding levels.” The blog uses the “HIV/AIDS funding summaries [.pdf] of the Department of State Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations” and a recent report from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to examine how budget cuts and a funding shortfall for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria may affect funding for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Kenya (Mazzotta, 4/18).

Guardian Blog Examines Potential Impact Of Global Fund Reform On Organization’s Future

In this post in her Global Health Blog, Guardian Health Editor Sarah Boseley examines the potential impact of reform within the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on the organization’s future. She writes, “It’s been only seven weeks since banker Gabriel Jaramillo took over as general manager of the [fund], but it is already clear the worthy organization set up by Kofi Annan to channel money to treat and prevent diseases in poor countries is a leaner, meaner machine.” She continues, “Jaramillo, former chair and chief executive of Sovereign Bank, brings a tougher attitude to the organization.”

Poor ART Adherence, Understanding Threatening To Undermine Gains Against HIV/AIDS In Nepal

Though HIV prevalence in Nepal has dropped from 0.45 percent in 2005 to 0.3 percent in 2012, “[p]oor understanding of antiretroviral therapy (ART) amongst health officials, clinicians and patients in Nepal could undermine [those] gains … and threaten future progress in lowering the number of new infections,” PlusNews reports. The news service interviews several Nepalese HIV/AIDS specialists about the importance of patients’ adherence to ART, how difficult travel to clinics can inhibit patients from returning for medication refills or counseling, and how “[p]olicies that neglect the comprehensive nutritional, financial, educational, and pharmaceutical needs of people living with HIV/AIDS amount to treatment illiteracy at the policy level.” PlusNews writes, “Observers fear the positive results from national HIV efforts could be diluted if tensions over the administration of HIV programs continue, and adherence issues hamper implementation” (4/17).

G8 Foreign Ministers Highlight Global Health, Agriculture, Nutrition In Statement

The ONE blog examines how G8 foreign ministers “will additionally prioritize smart and effective global health, agriculture and nutrition plans at this year’s [s]ummit.” According to a statement from the G8 ministers, they reaffirmed their commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, called for an AIDS-free generation, and stated investments in agricultural development show progress, particularly when focused on nutrition and women, the blog notes (4/17).

Researchers Present Findings Of Retrospective Analysis Of Microbicide Study At International Conference

“More than three years after reporting the primary results of HPTN 035, one of the last trials of the so-called first generation microbicides, researchers from the National Institutes of Health-funded Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) reported two new sets of findings gleaned” from the study data at the International Microbicides Conference in Sydney on Tuesday, an MTN press release states. According to a retrospective analysis of HPTN 035 data, researchers found that women who use hormonal contraception are not at an increased risk of HIV infection, but another study showed some women are more biologically susceptible to HIV infection than other women, the release notes. The press release details a number of other findings and highlights some of the “[m]ore than 40 oral and poster presentations by MTN investigators [that] have or will be presented at” the conference (4/17).

Researchers, Advocates Meet In Sydney To Discuss State Of Microbicide, HIV Prevention Research

“Three decades after the full onset of the global HIV tragedy, science appears to finally be developing preventative measures, including microbicides that would thwart infections in the first place, according to individuals at” the biennial International Microbicides Conference in Sydney, the Asia Sentinel writes. “Now, however, the challenge is to put the solution into the hands of those most susceptible to the disease,” the news service adds (Ramakant, 4/17). Researchers, advocates and funders met this week at the conference “to discuss the state of HIV prevention research,” a conference press release states.

Next Five Years Important For S. Africa To Show It Can Effectively Respond To HIV, TB

South Africa’s recently released “National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Tuberculosis (TB) 2012-2016” “marked an important milestone” in the nation’s fight against infectious diseases, a Lancet editorial states. “The plan [.pdf] has several broad goals: to reduce new HIV infections by at least 50 percent; to start at least 80 percent of eligible patients on antiretroviral treatment; to reduce the number of new tuberculosis infections and deaths by 50 percent; to ensure a legal framework that protects and promotes human rights to support implementation of the plan; and to reduce self-reported stigma related to HIV and tuberculosis by at least 50 percent,” the editorial notes.

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