Speaking on Saturday at the African Union Summit, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said huge advances in HIV treatment and prevention have been made over the past decade in Africa, “[b]ut these gains ‘are not sustainable,’ … because they are heavily dependent on foreign aid,” the Zimbabwean reports (1/30). “An estimated two-thirds of AIDS expenditures in Africa come from international funding sources, according to a new UNAIDS issues brief titled “AIDS dependency crisis: sourcing African solutions” (.pdf), Xinhua writes (1/29).
“Two groundbreaking initiatives, aimed at realistically achieving the once-unthinkable goal of ending new HIV infections among children by the end of 2015, were launched simultaneously at the World Economic Forum’s [WEF] Annual Conference in Davos” on Friday, according to a Business Leadership Council press release. “The Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV Free was launched together with a Social Media Syndicate that is designed to reach billions of people around the world … The Syndicate will evolve to focus on other U.N. Health Millennium Development Goals over the coming months,” the press release states (1/27). “The Social Media Syndicate will coordinate the most influential, individual publishers on the Social Web to share messages and actions needed to welcome a ‘Generation Born HIV Free’ and to achieve all the health-related Millennium Development Goals,” according to a press statement from UNAIDS and PEPFAR (1/27).
“Eighty-six percent of HIV-positive people in the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] have no access to antiretrovirals, medical charity Doctors Without Borders said Wednesday,” calling the “conditions of access to care for people living with HIV/AIDS … catastrophic,” Agence France-Presse reports (1/25). Approximately 15,000 people living with HIV in the DRC “likely will die waiting for lifesaving drugs in the next three years,” the organization, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said, the Associated Press reports. A statement from the organization “called for Congo’s government to meet its commitment to provide free treatment to people living with HIV and AIDS, and for donors to immediately mobilize resources ‘to ensure that patients waiting for ARV treatment are not condemned to die,'” according to the AP. Of an estimated 350,000 people in need of antiretroviral treatment, only 44,000 are receiving therapy, the AP notes (Mwanamilongo, 1/25).
“As the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] turns 10 on January 26, 2012, Nigerian families should join in the celebration of this innovative initiative that has saved the lives of millions here in Nigeria and across the globe,” Bello Bissalla, project manager for private sector and government partnerships at Friends of the Global Fund Africa, writes in Nigeria’s BusinessDay. “Much of the Global Fund’s success could be attributed to its performance-based financing mechanism, which creates room for transparency in the purchase, distribution and administration of drugs for these three diseases,” Bissalla continues, noting the grant review process “ensures that grant recipients show verified evidence of performance before receiving the next tranche of funding, thus ensuring transparency and implementation of the grant according to the plan.”
“There would be more than 4.4 million more people in South Africa if it were not for the AIDS pandemic, according to a survey released on Monday” by the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), SAPA/News 24 reports (1/23). Without AIDS-related deaths, the population would have been 55 million today, instead of 50.6 million, where it currently stands, and “[b]y 2040 the population would have reached 77.5 million — a whopping 24 million people more than is currently projected,” according to the study, GlobalPost notes (Conway-Smith, 1/23). “The survey is based on data sourced from the Actuarial Society of South Africa and the Institute for Futures Research,” SAPA/News 24 writes (1/23).
The U.S. Army news service reports on a five-day Medical Civil Action Program, or MEDCAP, in Tanzania, during which “Tanzanian medical providers working in partnership with U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa provided medical care to more than 2,100 Tanzanian women and children.” According to the news service, “The program supported the Tanzanian Health Initiative, a program that seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to health for the Tanzanian people and parallels the U.S. government’s Global Health Initiative.”
“Thirty years after AIDS made its deadly debut, a future without the disease is finally within reach,” a Boston Globe editorial states, adding, “But just as science is on the verge of winning the battle, financial resources and political will are flagging.” The editorial details reductions in HIV spending, a Congressional stipulation that U.S. funds cannot be spent on needle-exchange programs, and new science showing how HIV treatment can help people living with the disease live longer and reduce the risk of them spreading the virus.
“A total of 28,000 people died of HIV/AIDS in China in 2011, and another 48,000 in the country were found newly infected by the virus, according to an official publication” released on Saturday by China’s Ministry of Health, UNAIDS, and the WHO, Xinhua/China Daily reports. “With about 780,000 people living with HIV/AIDS nationwide, including 154,000 AIDS patients, the total infection rate of the country stands at 0.058 percent, the report said,” according to the news service. “The report added that more than 136,000 AIDS patients had received anti-virus treatments by September 2011, bringing the treatment coverage rate to 73.5 percent, an increase of 11.5 percentage points compared to 2009,” Xinhua writes (1/21).
A funding shortfall led the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to announce in November that “it won’t make any grants to fund programs for at least two years,” a Deseret News editorial notes and calls on the U.S. to take a leadership position in saving the fund. The editorial states, “Few worldwide initiatives have the success record of the Global Fund …, but those breakthroughs may not have much chance to save many lives,” and notes that the non-profit lobbying group “Results is calling for the Obama administration to assemble an emergency meeting of donor nations this spring to find ways to ensure that the fund and its programs are able to continue and to provide new medicines where they are needed most.”
Speaking at a media briefing in Geneva on Thursday, Sheila Tlou, UNAIDS director of the regional support team for Eastern and Southern Africa, said the region is making progress in scaling up access to prevention and treatment services, including behavior change and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programs, the U.N. News Centre reports. “We have to now focus on making sure that we scale up voluntary medical male circumcision, behavior change, and all those [interventions] to make sure that we reduce infections,” she said, adding that improving access to treatment also is critical, according to the news service (1/19). “‘There has been quite a lot of progress since 1997 with a 25 percent reduction in new infections in our region,’ said Tlou,” Agence France-Presse notes (1/19).