China’s State Council, or cabinet, on Wednesday “published the country’s AIDS Action Plan for the 12th Five-Year Program period (2011-2015) on the website of the Chinese government, http://www.gov.cn,” Xinhua/China.org.cn reports (2/29). According to the plan, “China hopes to cap the number of people living with HIV/AIDS at 1.2 million by 2015, up from around 780,000 at present,” by promoting condom use, reducing stigma and discrimination, and educating urban and rural populations, as well as local officials, about the disease, Reuters notes (Blanchard, 2/29). In addition, the plan aims to implement interventions among people at higher risk of infection, such as drug users, and increase the rates of HIV testing and treatment, according to Xinhua (2/29).
“People look to [the U.S.] to protect our allies; stand by our principles; serve as an honest broker in making peace; to fight hunger, poverty, and disease; to stand up to bullies and tyrants everywhere,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Tuesday in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and she added that to do so “takes more than just resolve. It takes resources,” ABS-CBNnews.com reports (Jaleco, 2/29).
Group Requests More Research, Better Communication From WHO On Use Of Hormonal Contraceptives, HIV Risk
“The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) expressed concern Monday over the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Technical Statement on Hormonal Contraceptives and HIV (.pdf) and its accompanying press release,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “WHO released the statement last week — concluding that women living with HIV or at high risk of HIV can safely continue to use hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy,” the blog writes. According to the blog, “The ICW is pushing for more research on the subject and increased communication to explain the risks involved to potential users of hormonal contraceptives” and “‘urgently’ demanded that the WHO correct the note for media the WHO released along with the technical statement, calling it inconsistent with the findings of the technical review panel” (Mazzotta, 2/28).
The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) — consisting of 40 global health research and advocacy organizations — on Tuesday held a congressional briefing to launch its third annual policy report, titled “Sustaining Progress: Creating U.S. policies to spur global health innovation,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports (Donnelly, 2/28). The group is “warning deep cuts in the U.S. federal budget could reverse progress made on many diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” VOA News writes (DeCapua, 2/28).
Two new reports from southern Africa’s Health Systems Trust show that pregnant women, infants, and people newly diagnosed with HIV infection are receiving more services, but the costs of care are increasing, PlusNews reports. The annual District Health Barometer shows that about half of infants born to HIV-positive mothers are being tested for the virus at six weeks; almost all pregnant women are tested for HIV, helping to lower the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission to below four percent nationwide; and about 70 percent of people newly diagnosed with HIV receive screening for tuberculosis (TB), according to the news service.
Examining Link Between ‘Power Structures,’ Disease Spread Through Study Of Incarceration, HIV Treatment
In this Open Society Foundations (OSF) blog post, Daniel Wolfe, director of the International Harm Reduction Development Program at OSF, examines “the ways that power structures, rather than individuals, contribute to disease rebound and spread,” citing a recent study by MJ Milloy and colleagues, published in the journal JAIDS, “which shows the link between incarceration and the failure of HIV treatment.” Wolfe writes, “Milloy’s analysis showed that incarceration kick-started viral replication among patients who had previously had their HIV under control. The findings make the study one of a number of must-reads on how prison practices not only impact the health of inmates but communities at large” (2/27).
Pharmaceutical company Novartis “has spoken out following criticism about its challenge to India’s patent laws, insisting that access to life-saving drugs is not under peril by the move,” Pharma Times World News reports. The case, which the Indian Supreme Court is scheduled to hear next month, challenges “Indian patent law, notably Section 3(d), which states that a modification of a known chemical composition is non-patentable,” the news service writes.
In this guest post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog, Brook Baker of the Northeastern University School of Law Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, “describe[s] and comment[s] on pharmaceutical company Novartis’s court challenge to India’s strict standards of patenting medicine” and worldwide protests against the company that took place last week prior to its shareholder meeting (Mazzotta, 2/27).
“Cash-strapped Swaziland is struggling to fund its HIV programs, and experts are warning of long-term damage to treatment and prevention schemes if steps are not taken to ring-fence funding and supplies,” the Mail & Guardian reports. About 200,000 people are living with HIV in Swaziland, nearly one quarter of the population, the newspaper notes, adding, “Until now the government has done well in terms of providing antiretroviral (ARV) treatment — achieving 78 percent coverage, just under the World Health Organization’s ‘universal coverage’ rate of 80 percent. But there are fears that uncertainty about funding streams and weak supply-chain management could result in a reversal of this progress.” The article discusses funding from the government, PEPFAR, and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; antiretroviral drug and testing supply problems; and the epidemic’s effect on children and life expectancy in the country (Redvers, 2/27).
In this post in PSI’s “Healthy Living” blog, Mannasseh Phiri, PSI’s country representative in Zambia, examines HIV/AIDS in Zambian prisons. Phiri reports the findings of a survey recently conducted by the IN BUT FREE (IBF) Prisons Project “to determine the extent and magnitude of the HIV and AIDS epidemic in Zambia’s prisons.” He concludes, “The high prevalence of HIV in our prisons cannot and should not be ignored. We cannot hope to be able to tackle our HIV epidemic in Zambian society outside of the prisons, unless we face up to the reality of the HIV epidemic inside the prisons” (2/24).