Writing in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog, (RED) CEO Deborah Dugan reflects on World AIDS Day, observed annually on December 1. “World AIDS Day presents an opportunity every year to raise the profile of the pandemic and remind people of the havoc it’s wreaked in its 31 years of existence,” Dugan states, adding, “The date also gives us a responsibility to make as much noise as we can about the disease — to remind people that it’s still one of the deadliest health issues for people in sub-Saharan Africa — and in a domino effect, a huge threat to economic traction in countries worst affected.” She highlights a new (RED) campaign called DANCE (RED), SAVE LIVES which “[brings] together some of the biggest names in dance music” in an effort to “engage with and channel today’s youth.” According to the blog, the post “was produced by the Huffington Post and (RED) as part of a series recognizing World AIDS Day” (11/28).
Recognizing World AIDS Day is December 1, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe David Bruce Wharton writes in a Herald opinion piece, “Ending AIDS is a shared responsibility. … Everyone has a role to play — government leaders, the private sector, multilateral organizations, civil society, media, faith-based organizations, and each one of us.” Noting the U.S. has invested nearly $300 million in the fight against HIV in Zimbabwe since 2000 and plans to contribute $92 million more to the country through PEPFAR over the next year, Wharton says, “Through PEPFAR, the United States is working closely with Zimbabwe to build the country’s capacity to lead an effective national response” and increase “country ownership.”
“HIV is the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age,” and without HIV, “maternal mortality worldwide would be 20 percent lower,” Lucy Chesire, executive director and secretary to the Board of the TB ACTION Group, writes in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. She says that women “often face barriers accessing HIV treatment and care,” adding she recently “was struck with the significant role the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] has played in reducing women’s barriers to treatment.”
Leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1, the AIDS.gov blog published several pieces discussing progress in reaching the goal of an AIDS-free generation. The pieces are summarized below.
“For the first time, with support from the GAVI Alliance, a pentavalent vaccine was introduced [in Myanmar this week] that will defend children against five potentially fatal diseases,” Dagfinn Hoybraten, vice president of the Norwegian Parliament and chair of the GAVI Alliance Board, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, adding, “Over the next six months, more than half a million children in [the country] will be protected from diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B (hepB), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).” He continues, “Along with the pentavalent vaccine, Myanmar also rolled out the measles second dose vaccine as part of the routine immunization schedule,” and “[t]he country plans to reach 1.1 million children over the next year, giving them protection against a virus that kills hundreds of people a day.”
In the Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” blog, Ward Cates, president emeritus of FHI 360, examines the HIV treatment cascade, which he says “is crucial both to assuring the individual’s health and to achieving the public health goal of an AIDS-free generation.” The first step in the cascade is HIV testing, which determines whether an individual should be referred for and receive HIV care and treatment, he notes, adding, “We can use the cascade model to help gain accurate assessments of the ‘leakage points’ in the HIV care and treatment system. By knowing where in the cascade we need to focus, we can provide additional incentives for patients and resources for providers to improve retention.” Cates describes several novel prevention technologies, highlights programs in different countries working to bring people into the cascade, and concludes, “As we pause to reflect on 2012’s World AIDS Day, let’s resolve to get everyone on board to make the most of the tools we have. We can conquer this disease” (11/27).
Emmanuel Njeuhmeli, senior biomedical prevention adviser in the USAID Office of HIV/AIDS, writes in the agency’s “IMPACTblog” that the first International Men’s Day on November 19 was an opportunity to “recognize and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of men in East and Southern Africa who are stepping up for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) to protect their own health and that of their families.” He continues, “We also recognize the political, traditional and community leaders who are leading the charge in their countries and local communities.” According to Njeuhmeli, who describes some VMMC programs of USAID and PEPFAR, “USAID and UNAIDS have estimated that VMMC has the potential to avert more than 3.4 million new HIV infections in 14 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, and save an estimated $16.5 billion in care and treatment over the next 15 years, freeing up resources for other crucial HIV interventions” (11/27).
“As we head into the time of year people usually associate with selflessness and giving, Canadians should stop and think about whether our country is doing enough for international development,” Steven Hoffman, an assistant professor at McMaster University, a fellow at the University of Toronto and an instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health, writes in a Globe and Mail opinion piece. “Foreign aid policy is the way a country presents itself and its values to the world,” Hoffman writes, adding, “If you ask Canadians, three natural values stand out: gender equality, democratic governance and health for all. These are Canadians’ priorities.” He continues, “The business case for giving priority to health in our foreign aid policy is particularly strong,” and adds, “Global health initiatives contribute to social well-being while also advancing human rights, trade, economic growth, and security.” He writes, “Canada is certainly not the world leader it once was and should be on health issues. That role has been abandoned by the current federal government,” and continues, “Canada must build on its strengths and the priorities of its citizens to address development needs, especially gender equality, democratic governance, and global health” (11/26).
In the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, Todd Summers, senior adviser at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, reviews the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s old rounds-based grant system that the Global Fund Board recently agreed to replace with a new funding model “that’s designed to be flexible, focused, and fast,” he says. Summers describes some of the shortcomings of the old model, outlines the “[c]ore attributes” of the new model, and writes, “Many other important aspects of the new funding model remain to be worked out, and some larger questions remain. I’ll try to highlight some of these in upcoming blogs” (11/26).
“As World AIDS Day 2012 approaches, it is a timely opportunity to reflect on what we learned at this year’s International AIDS Conference” and recognize “[t]he United States, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), has been a remarkable vehicle in this fight, employing sound science to offer the highest quality interventions and treatment,” Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), writes in the AIDS.gov blog. Daulaire discusses how “[t]o ensure long-term sustainability, PEPFAR country programs and its implementing agencies are transforming their partnerships so that countries direct, implement, and evaluate their own responses with strong U.S. support,” and elaborates on the “four key dimensions of country ownership.” He concludes, “HHS is committed to continue implementing PEPFAR programs in partnership with countries and civil society as they build a sustainable response to global AIDS and work towards achieving an AIDS-free generation” (11/26).