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UNAIDS, PEPFAR Announce 5-Year Action Framework To Scale Up Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision For HIV Prevention

UNAIDS and PEPFAR on Monday at the 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Africa (ICASA) “launched a five-year action framework to accelerate the scale-up of voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) for HIV prevention,” according to a UNAIDS press release. “The framework — developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS, PEFPAR, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank in consultation with national Ministries of Health — calls for the immediate roll-out and expansion of VMMC services in 14 priority countries of eastern and southern Africa,” the release notes (12/5).

PlusNews Examines HIV/AIDS In Laos

PlusNews examines HIV/AIDS in Laos, writing, “Out of a total population of 6.3 million, the national prevalence of 0.2 percent among 15-49-year-olds puts the 8,500 reported HIV/AIDS cases in Laos nearly a decade behind that of its neighbors.” However, the news service notes that, “as the socialist country increasingly opens its borders, health workers are bracing for a potential concentrated, ‘catastrophic’ outbreak in a country where HIV prevention is not yet a priority.” Kinoy Phongdeth, director of the Lao Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, said, “It is true that in Laos there are not so many people living with HIV and AIDS, but we are still people and we need help,” PlusNews reports (12/2).

Proposed Bill In Nigeria Would Affect Gay Rights, Possibly HIV/AIDS Donor Funding, AP Reports

The Associated Press examines the potential impact on HIV/AIDS funding of a proposed bill in Nigeria that would outlaw gay marriage; assisting a gay couple in marriage; “‘public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly'”; or “organizing, operating or supporting gay clubs, organizations and meetings.” According to the news agency, “Statements from the U.S. and U.K. say both governments are watching the bill closely, but declined to comment further on how it may affect their outreach.” Before becoming law, the bill must pass Nigeria’s House of Representatives and be signed by President Jonathan, the AP notes (Ibukun, 12/4).

Fully Funding Global Health Initiatives Critical In AIDS Fight

“With donor support flagging around the world, U.S. leadership is crucial. Congress must fully fund its global health programs, especially the Global Fund” to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Joyce Kamwana, a Global Fund “HERE I AM” campaign ambassador, writes in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” She adds, “Reducing support for global health would put millions of people at risk” and “would deal a devastating blow to the global fight against AIDS, which has reached a critical point.”

Incorporate Other Diseases Into Fight Against AIDS

“The public and private sectors have achieved remarkable success in Africa in the battle against AIDS, and the question now is: Where do we go from here?” James Glassman, founding executive director of the George W. Bush Institute and former under secretary of state for public affairs and public diplomacy, writes in this Forbes opinion piece. Noting the “incredible accomplishment” made in fighting HIV/AIDS over the past decade, Glassman says “the first answer to where we go from here is more of the same, and then some,” and states that the UNAIDS targets of “Zero new HIV infections” and “Zero AIDS-related deaths” “soun[d] right.”

Reflecting On Bush’s Global Health, Foreign Policy Initiatives In Africa

In this Brookings opinion piece, Mwangi Kimenyi, director of the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI), and Jessica Smith, a research assistant at AGI, reflect on George W. Bush’s four-day tour of Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia, where he will “focus on some of the initiatives that [he] advocated for and strongly supported while in office.” They write, “Despite demonstrating a unique commitment to the African continent, …­ Bush’s record tends to be underrated,” but he “has high approval rating on the continent itself, making it instructive to reflect on the former president’s African initiatives, which bring him such admiration from sub-Saharan Africa.”

16th International Conference On AIDS, STIs Opens In Ethiopia

The 16th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) in Africa (ICASA) opened Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, “with mixed messages of hope and fear,” Afrique en ligne reports, adding, “With about 7,000 people in attendance, the opening ceremony witnessed the celebration of past successes and fear over future uncertainties in funding for HIV/AIDS” (12/4). According to Next, the conference “will provide a platform for effective African solution toward defeating the scourge once and for all” (12/5).

Government Leaders Make Statements In Recognition Of World AIDS Day

A number of government leaders made statements on Thursday in recognition of World AIDS Day. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a press statement said, “We have come a long way in the fight against AIDS, but there is still a long road ahead to realize our ambitious goals. If we continue to work together and coordinate a global effort guided by science, we may one day live in an AIDS-free generation” (12/1). In a post on the White House Blog, Gayle Smith, special assistant to the President, and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby write, “As President Obama made clear, the fight against global AIDS is a shared responsibility, not one the U.S. can meet alone. … As we move forward, we will work with a growing number of partners as the global community joins the U.S. in a heightened focus on this fight” (12/1).

End To AIDS In Reach, U.N. Officials Say On World AIDS Day

“As the world heads into the fourth decade of AIDS, it is finally in a position to end the epidemic, [U.N.] Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said [Thursday], leading a chorus of United Nations officials in calling for the political will, investments and determination to reach this goal,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘Momentum is on our side. Let us use it to end AIDS — once and for all,’ Mr. Ban said in his message for World AIDS Day,” the news service writes (12/1).

South African President Introduces National Strategic Plan On HIV, STIs, TB

South African President Jacob Zuma in a speech on Thursday to mark World AIDS Day introduced a new five-year National Strategic Plan (.pdf) on HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis (TB), which “calls for stepped-up prevention efforts to halve new infections of HIV and tuberculosis by 2016 and to put 80 percent of eligible patients on antiretroviral drugs to fight AIDS,” Agence France-Presse reports (12/1). In addition, the plan aims to reduce the number of mother-to-child HIV transmission cases, which Zuma noted was halved between 2008 and 2010, reduce HIV- and TB-related stigma, target high-risk populations, and promote education among youth to reduce their risk of HIV infection, according to Times Live (Chauke/Mclea, 12/2).

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