According to the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) on Thursday sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking for “his leadership in launching a renewed global effort to end the AIDS pandemic on World AIDS Day, December 1.” The letter asked the president…
Toronto’s Globe and Mail reports on the death on Thursday of Winstone Zulu, an HIV/AIDS advocate from Zambia who lived with the virus for two decades. “His death has devastated the international community of AIDS activists,” the newspaper writes, adding, “Winstone was a one-man force who played a key role in reshaping the global response to HIV/AIDS and (tuberculosis) TB. He personally lobbied every G8 leader; he spoke to mass rallies on five continents; he inspired audiences at schools and in churches and in parliaments in dozens of countries.”
“Speaking out against a potential $16 million cut in the Army’s base research and development budget for HIV, leaders of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) sent a letter (.pdf) Thursday to the Secretary of the U.S. Army, John McHugh, making the case for sustaining the U.S. Military HIV Research Program (MHRP),” according to the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog. In the letter, IDSA President James Hughes and HIVMA Board Chair Kathleen Squires “urged the secretary … to continue the modest investment in the MHRP, which also sustains more than 100,000 HIV-infected people in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique and Thailand on lifesaving antiretroviral therapy through the [PEPFAR] program,” the blog writes (10/13).
“Women, girls and HIV were the focus of a panel discussion on the final day of the International Forum on [Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6] in Eastern Europe and Central Asia,” UNAIDS reports. “In Russia, HIV prevalence among young women aged 15-24 is two times higher than among men of the same age, according to government figures,” UNAIDS notes, adding women’s health advocates in Russia say, “Stigma and discrimination â€¦ continue to hamper access to HIV services” (10/13).
In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Melissa Sharer, AIDSTAR-One senior care and support officer at John Snow, Inc., writes, “Although treatment is now widely available and [people living with HIV (PLHIV)] are able to live normal and active lives for many years, their mental health needs are often overlooked in care, treatment, and support programs.” Sharer highlights the success of programs in Vietnam and in Uganda that “combine mental health and existing health services.”
Russian Foreign Minister Says Country's HIV/AIDS Problem Is Being 'Aggravated' By U.S., NATO Refusal To Eradicate Poppy Crops In Afghanistan
Speaking on Monday at a conference on communicable diseases in the eastern Europe and Central Asia region, where AIDS is a growing problem, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made Russia’s case for poppy crop eradication by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan asserting that the West “is aggravating the HIV/AIDS problem in Russia and the West by refusing to use its forces to destroy opium crops in Afghanistan,” Reuters reports. “Afghanistan is the world’s biggest producer of poppies used to make opium, the key ingredient in the production of heroin,” the news service writes, adding, “Russia is the largest per capita consumer of the drug and faces an HIV/AIDS epidemic that is spreading from dirty needles.” “The United States has phased out crop eradication efforts to focus instead on intercepting drugs and hunting production operations and drug lords,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, adding that the U.S. “said it made the change because drug crop eradication was putting farmers out of work, sowing resentment against foreign intervention” (10/10).
The U.S. has pledged a record $56 million donation from PEPFAR to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) aimed to “dramatically increase resources for programs in Ethiopia providing vital nutrition assistance to people living with HIV (PLHIV),” according to a WFP press release. With the donation, “WFP will work in Ethiopia’s least developed regions … to improve the nutritional status, treatment success and quality of life of PLHIV,” the press release states (10/11).
“India’s Aurobindo Pharma has become the first major generic drugmaker to join” the Medicines Patent Pool, launched by the UNITAID health financing system and “designed to make HIV/AIDS treatments more widely available to the poor,” Reuters reports. “The Medicines Patent Pool said on Tuesday the agreement would allow Aurobindo to make a range of AIDS drugs licensed to the pool by Gilead Sciences, the leading maker of HIV drugs, in July,” according to the news service. “Aurobindo has also elected to take advantage of a key provision in the pool’s licenses in order to sell one drug, tenofovir, to a wide range of countries without paying royalties,” Reuters writes, adding, “These could include several middle-income countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Ukraine and Uruguay” (Hirschler, 10/11).
Preliminary Analysis Suggests HIV/AIDS Prevention Program In India May Have Prevented Some 100,000 Infections
A $258 million HIV/AIDS prevention program in six Indian states may have prevented an estimated 100,000 infections from 2003 to 2008, researchers from the Public Health Foundation of India and the University of Washington suggest in a study published in the Lancet on Tuesday, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (10/10). The analysis “concluded that infections dropped significantly in three populous southern states, a little in Tamil Nadu, and not at all in northern Manipur and Nagaland,” the New York Times reports (McNeil, 10/10). “While the initial findings regarding the … Avahan project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, come with large uncertainty due to data limitations and methodology, the study’s authors say … that investing in prevention can make a dent in one of the world’s largest epidemics,” AP writes (10/10). Tactics used in the program, which targeted high-risk groups, “included one-on-one safe-sex counseling, free condoms, exchanging used needles for sterilized ones, clinics to treat sexually-transmitted disease and advocacy work within the community,” Agence France-Press reports (10/10).
In this RH Reality Check opinion piece, Matthew Kavanagh, director of U.S. advocacy at Health GAP (Global Access Project), and Dazon Dixon Diallo, founder and president of SisterLove, Incorporated, write, “With proof that treatment is prevention, and with this basket of broader prevention options, scientists and economists have finally been able to show what few could before: models of how we end the AIDS crisis.”