“There is no doubt that” a 10 percent reduction in funding from donor governments for the AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries in 2010 from the previous year’s levels “is linked to economic strain felt by countries across the globe,” a VOA News editorial says. “UNAIDS estimates that an investment of at least $22 billion will be needed by 2015 in order to avert more than seven million deaths,” the editorial states, adding, “It is clear that continued support to HIV prevention and treatment is a necessary investment, even in these difficult times.”
“Burundian NGOs say at least 20 people have died” as a result of a “months-long shortage” of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), although “Ministry of Health officials could not be reached to confirm the number of people affected,” PlusNews reports. “More than 60,000 Burundians need HIV treatment, but only about 25,000 have access to ARVs,” according to the news agency, which adds, “The shortage has been blamed on dwindling donor funds and a disorganized health ministry.”
“Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Monday opened a national HIV and AIDS conference with a call for the nation’s men to take a larger role in the response to the deadly pandemic, not only for their own health but that of women and children,” VOA News reports (Gumbo, 9/5). Speaking at the conference, Mugabe said, “The role of men in society is unquestionable. It is for this reason that men should take their place in the HIV response, both for their own health as well as in support of women and children … and it is not just treatment, but also a fact of discipline,” Zimbabwe’s Herald writes (9/6).
“The Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator released the U.S President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Guidance for the Prevention of Sexually Transmitted HIV Infections (.pdf) this week,” a “50-plus page document … intended to ‘assist PEPFAR country teams in developing Country Operational Plans (COPs) that align activities to…
With more widespread access to antiretroviral (ARV) drugs “comes a greater need to monitor and promote the safety and effectiveness of these essential medicines in the new environments, which are distinct from those of pre-market studies and the resource rich countries that have had ARV access for years. Without sufficient monitoring systems in place, we can’t efficiently identify and stop counterfeiting of ARV drugs,” Jur Strobos, deputy director of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research, and Andy Stergachis, professor of epidemiology and global health and director of the Global Medicines Program at School of Public Health at the University of Washington, write in an opinion piece in The Scientist.
According to a 2011 report (.pdf) on HIV-related stigma in Egypt from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, “the health care sector was consistently identified by people living with HIV as a major source of stigma and discrimination,” PlusNews reports. “A study quoted in the report found that denial of care, breach of confidentiality, non-consensual testing, poor quality of care, gossip and blame were all frequent features of Egypt’s health care setting” and “[m]any of the 11,000 Egyptians living with HIV would rather suffer minor health problems than attempt to obtain health care,” the news service writes.
Inter Press Service profiles a program launched by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) to develop antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) specifically designed for children living with HIV/AIDS. “The program will focus exclusively on developing child-adapted formulations for children under three, the most neglected segment in terms of availability of ARVs. The DNDi hopes to have new pediatric-specific medicines available between 2014 and 2016,” IPS writes. The article examines pediatric HIV treatment issues in India, Kenya and Brazil (Frayssinet et al., 8/29).
In this U.N. Dispatch blog post, Mark Leon Goldberg, managing editor of the blog, examines the costs of second-line antiretroviral treatments (ARVs), which “are several orders of magnitude more expensive than traditional, first-line ARV treatments” and are a “huge barrier to providing care” for resource-poor countries. He writes of “a huge gap in the way governments and donors have historically approached people living with HIV,” adding that “as more people access first-line treatment, there will be more opportunities for people to develop resistance to that first line. Donors and governments in the developing world simply can’t afford that kind of outlay.”
The New York Times examines the “growing drug addiction problem” in Afghanistan, where, in 2010, about 900,000 people, or seven percent of the adult population, were using drugs, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. The newspaper notes “a recent report by the Ministry of Public Health in partnership with Johns Hopkins University … found HIV present in about seven percent of drug users, double the figure just three years ago, said Dr. Fahim Paigham, who until recently directed the Ministry of Public Health’s AIDS control program.”
“Iranian HIV doctor Arash Alaei has been released from jail in Tehran after spending more than three years behind bars for allegedly conspiring against the regime, his U.S.-based brother said Monday,” Agence France-Presse reports (Sheridan, 8/29).