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.”
“Scientists, stymied for decades by the complexity of the human immunodeficiency virus, are making progress on several fronts in the search for a cure for HIV infections,” but “[a] major stumbling block is the fact that HIV lies low in pools or reservoirs of latent infection that even powerful drugs cannot reach, scientists told the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, one of the world’s largest scientific meetings on HIV/AIDS,” in Seattle last week, Reuters reports. “Promising tactics range from flushing hidden HIV from cells to changing out a person’s own immune system cells, making them resistant to HIV and then putting them back into the patient’s body,” the news service writes.
A new report (.pdf), “jointly published by the Korekata AIDS Law Center in Beijing and the U.S.-based non-governmental organization Asia Catalyst,” calls for the Chinese government to conduct “a full and independent investigation into the number of people affected” by illegal blood selling in central China in the 1990s that helped to spread HIV, “an official apology to the people affected, as well as compensation,” BMJ reports.
At a plenary session Thursday at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) “presented preliminary data from the 2010 revision of the Global Burden of Disease,” which “is aimed at analyzing global health trends to quantify the comparative magnitude of health loss due to diseases, injuries and risk factors by age, sex and geography for specific points in time,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the study is a collaboration of IMHE, the University of Queensland, the WHO, and the Harvard and Johns Hopkins Schools of Public Health, according to the blog, which notes that the analysis of 225 health conditions and more than 50 risk factors is expected to be published this year and made available to the public online (Lubinski, 3/8).