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MCC Invests $122M In Lesotho Health System To Address Key Challenges, Including HIV, TB

“The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), through its partnership with the Millennium Challenge Account-Lesotho, is helping Lesotho address key challenges in its health sector through a $122 million investment in health infrastructure and health systems,” IIP Digital reports. “More than 720,000 Basotho are expected to benefit from the MCC health project over the next 20 years,” the news service writes.

Progress In AIDS Fight In Peril As Governments Renege On Funding Pledges

In this Toronto Star opinion piece, Richard Elliott, executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and Nicci Stein, executive director of the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development, discuss how progress made in the fight against HIV/AIDS over the last 30 years “is in peril, due to governments reneging on repeated promises to fund the fight against the pandemic.”

“[S]topping the AIDS pandemic requires sustained engagement from both donor and developing countries, political commitments that are backed by dollars. … Yet many donor countries have chosen precisely this moment to abandon their promises,” they write. They discuss the cancellation of Round 11 grants by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and ask the Canadian government to deliver on its HIV/AIDS funding pledges. Elliott and Stein conclude, “We can turn the tide on the spread of HIV — victory has never been closer. But we need to make sure that those with the power and the money use it toward achieving the goal of an end to AIDS” (12/7).

Forbes Interviews Babatunde Osotimehin About His Work In HIV/AIDS, Maternal Health, Leadership

Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and under-secretary-general of the U.N., answers questions about his work from Forbes contributor Rahim Kanani in this interview excerpt. Osotimehin “discussed current trends in population growth, innovative approaches to tackling HIV/AIDS, leadership lessons in public health, challenges to safeguarding maternal health while encouraging family planning, and much more,” according to Forbes (12/8).

Goal Of AIDS-Free Generation Achievable Through ‘AIDS Transition’

In this Foreign Affairs opinion piece, Mead Over, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, says the goal of an “AIDS-free generation” is attainable, “[b]ut not if treatment continues to take precedence over prevention.” He continues, “It is unfortunate that so many have focused on treatment alone because there is a way to end the global scourge of HIV/AIDS: by conditioning the rate of expansion of treatment programs on the reduction of new infections. This much-needed shift would lead to what I call an AIDS transition — the day on which the rate of new infections falls below the rate of AIDS-related deaths so that the number of people living with HIV/AIDS decreases year-on-year.”

Global Health R&D Funding From Wealthy Nations Fell 6% In 2010, Annual G-FINDER Report Finds

“A group that tracks funding for neglected diseases released its fourth annual report Wednesday, showing for the first time since 2007 a decrease in government and public spending in global health research and development,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Mazzotta, 12/7). The Global Funding of Innovation for Neglected Diseases (G-FINDER) survey report, conducted by Policy Cures and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that “[p]ublic funding from the world’s richest nations for research and development (R&D) of new neglected disease products fell by US$125 million (down six percent) in 2010,” a Policy Cures press release (.pdf) states (12/7).

Innovative Taxes Can Be Used To Fill AIDS Funding Gap, UNAIDS Head Says

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that donors looking to fund the fight against AIDS “could raise funds through taxes,” according to the news agency. Speaking on the sidelines of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sidibe said, “If we have a global financial transaction tax, say of 0.5 percent, we will have $226 billion. Ten percent of that resource is enough for financing the fight against HIV/AIDS, stopping the epidemic, because we can reduce by 96 percent the number of new infections by putting people early on treatment. We can have taxation on cigarettes and alcohol. We can find different ways to mobilize new resources,” according to Reuters (Maasho, 12/7).

Global Plan Of Action Needed To End AIDS

After “President Obama threw the full weight of the U.S. government behind a vision” to end the AIDS epidemic in a World AIDS Day speech, “[n]ow the question is: How will we achieve this goal? What are the priority actions to take today, tomorrow, and years from now?” Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “First and foremost, the resource commitments need to match the strength of the scientific data,” he says, adding, “It is precisely at this moment, when the potential dividends are greatest, that the world’s modest AIDS investments should be sustained.”

MENA Region Among Top Two Regions With Fastest Growing HIV Epidemic, Report Shows

“A report on the HIV epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) shows that while the overall HIV prevalence in the region is still low, the rise in new infections since 2001 has put the MENA region among the top two regions in the world with the fastest growing HIV epidemic,” UNAIDS reports (12/4). The regional report was released Monday in Cairo, Egypt, under the auspices of the League of Arab States, according to the Egypt Independent (Helmy, 12/6). “The report outlines many recommendations on how to strengthen the AIDS response in the MENA region,” according to UNAIDS, including “review of laws and policies that hinder access to HIV prevention and treatments services, to invest smartly using an evidence-informed and human rights based approach, and the importance of strong political leadership” (12/4).

Myanmar Appeals For Assistance In HIV/AIDS Fight, Develops 5-Year National HIV/AIDS

“Myanmar appealed on Tuesday to the international community to increase assistance in combating HIV/AIDS, as AIDS response in the country has entered a critical stage,” Xinhua reports, adding, “The appeal was made by participants attending” a round-table discussion on reaching zero AIDS-related stigma and discrimination in the country (12/6).

Integration Of Family Planning, HIV Programs ‘Makes Sense’

In this Knowledge for Health (K4Health) blog post, Elsie Mwaniki, a communication specialist at K4Health, reflects on the integration of family planning and HIV services, writing, “Many HIV-positive women have an unmet need for family planning (FP) services,” so providing these services together (FP/HIV integration) “makes sense.” She recaps a panel discussion…

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