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Despite Gains, HIV/AIDS Remains Public-Health Priority, UNAIDS, WHO Say

News outlets continued to examine the 2009 AIDS epidemic update released Tuesday by the WHO and UNAIDS: “The U.N. report said ‘AIDS continues to be a major public-health priority’ and called for more funds to support efforts to curb the epidemic and to distribute lifesaving drugs,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The U.N. report also suggested that health authorities need to focus resources on those most at risk” (Fairclough, 11/25).

Also In Global Health News: Urban Development Legislation; U.S. Military Program For Afghan Farmers; Malawi Gay Conviction; Liberian Agriculture; Costs Of HIV/AIDS Care

IRIN Reports On U.S. Legislation Aimed At Better Addressing Urban Development Worldwide “The Sustainable Urban Development Act of 2010 – introduced by Sens. Benjamin Cardin (D-Maryland), Dick Durban (D-Illinois), and John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) on 20 April – directs USAID to better tackle the problems of enlarging slums, increasing levels of…

Uganda Releases Strategy To Reduce HIV Infections; Activists Question Country's Ability To Meet Goals

“In response to rising HIV prevalence, Uganda’s government has announced a strategy to reduce new HIV infections by up to 30 percent by 2015, but activists have cast doubt on its ability to achieve this ambitious goal,” PlusNews reports. “In August, the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) released a revised National HIV Prevention Strategy aimed at ‘increasing the adoption of safer sexual behavior and reduction of risk-taking behavior, attaining critical coverage of effective HIV prevention service, creating a sustainable enabling environment that mitigates the underlying structural drivers of the epidemic, re-engaging leadership and energizing coordination of HIV prevention, and improving strategic information on HIV prevention,'” the news service writes. “The Ministry of Health also plans to improve the quality and coverage of HIV counseling and testing, increase condom use, fast-track the rollout of safe male circumcision to reach 4.2 million men by 2015, expand antiretroviral treatment as HIV prevention, and increase the coverage of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services from 52 percent to 75 percent,” PlusNews notes.

VOA News Examines AIDS Among Marginalized Groups In Burma

VOA News examines AIDS among high-risk groups in Burma, also known as Myanmar. “Burma’s AIDS epidemic mostly affects marginalized groups, such as the gay community,” the news service writes, adding, “About one percent of Burma’s population is HIV-positive,” but “[a]mong high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men, health workers estimate as many as 11 percent have HIV.” The news service notes, “While Burma’s National AIDS Plan has helped stem new infections, it offers almost no help for marginalized groups already living with HIV.”

Speakers At Panel Discussion Explore Policy Implications Of Findings On HIV Transmission Among MSM

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Thursday hosted a panel discussion focusing on the policy implications of findings published by the Lancet in a special series on HIV/AIDS and men who have sex with men (MSM), the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Barton, 9/7). Chris Beyrer, a professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a contributor to the Lancet series, explained two factors are affecting the expansion of the HIV epidemic among MSM worldwide, according to Inter Press Service. First, HIV “is far more efficiently transmitted through the gut, hence leading to a far higher transmission probability in anal sex, for either a man or a woman — around 18 times more likely than through vaginal transmission,” the news service writes. Second, “because gay men can switch sexual roles in a way that is impossible among heterosexual couples — acting as both the acquisition and transmission partner — the efficiency of transmission among MSM networks appears to be far higher than previously understood,” IPS adds, noting, “These two factors, the new research suggests, account for a full 98 percent of the difference between HIV epidemics among MSM and heterosexual populations.”

Street News Service/IPS Examine Challenges Of Fighting HIV/AIDS In A Senegalese Prison

Street News Service/Inter Press Service examines how Senegal is addressing HIV/AIDS among prisoners in a Dakar maximum-security facility. “Prisons are high-risk environments for the transmission of the disease, due to the prevalence of hard drugs, violence and sexual relations,” the news service writes and discusses how addressing such issues can present challenges in the majority-Muslim country. “There is no mandatory testing in prison, and for those prisoners who, either knowingly or unknowingly, are living with HIV, the stresses of living in prison — including overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and poor nutrition — mean their health is even more compromised.”

Resources Dedicated To Fighting HIV/AIDS Among MSM ‘Inefficient,’ Report Says

“Funding to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS consistently fails to reach programs designed to control the disease among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), according to a new analysis (.pdf) released Wednesday by amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research and the Center for Public Health and Human Rights (CPHHR) at Johns Hopkins University,” an amfAR press release states. The report, titled “Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation for Gay Men and Other MSM,” “finds that resources dedicated to addressing the epidemic among MSM are grossly insufficient, and that funding intended for this population is often diverted away from MSM-related services,” the press release says (1/18). The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog notes, “The report authors looked at reporting data related to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria HIV funding in eight countries — China, Ethiopia, Guyana, India, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ukraine and Vietnam” (Mazzotta, 1/19).

Working In Kazakhstan To End HIV Stigma, Discrimination

In this post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Erin McKee, USAID mission director for the Central Asian Republics, recounts a discussion roundtable with people “on the front lines” in the battle against HIV/AIDS in Kazakhstan. She writes, “I was honored to share a morning with people in Kazakhstan who are bold advocates for HIV-positive groups in their country, and I look forward to a renewed partnership with them in the fight to end stigma and discrimination toward people living with HIV in Central Asia” (12/27).

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