The goal of an “AIDS-free generation” “requires an ambitious implementation-science agenda that improves efficiency and effectiveness and incorporates strategies for overcoming the stigma and discrimination that continue to limit the uptake and utilization of [treatment, prevention and care] services,” AIDS 2012 Co-Chair Diane Havlir of the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine and Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research write in a New England Journal of Medicine opinion piece. They note that “[r]esearch efforts on HIV vaccines will also probably be key, and the field has been reinvigorated” by recent study results. “A combination approach to prevention that includes HIV treatment can generate tremendous gains in the short term by curtailing new HIV infections, but ending the AIDS epidemic will probably require a vaccine, a cure, or both,” they write.
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation, reflects on the London Summit on Family Planning, which took place last week, writing, “I was humbled and thrilled by the world’s commitment to put women and girls back at the heart of the global health agenda. … Their enthusiasm shows that family planning is a high priority in the countries where many women and girls lack access, and that is the key to success in the long term” (7/18). In a related post on the blog, Gary Darmstadt, head of the Family Health Division at the foundation, writes, “At the Summit, the clear consensus among the participants was that responding to unmet need for family planning is a human right and we have an obligation to act. … Stakeholders agreed that women must be at the center of family planning decision-making at all levels” (7/18).
In this post in the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president of CSIS and director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, reflects on the upcoming International AIDS Conference, which opens in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, writing, “It is a choice opportunity in the midst of our bitter electoral season to tell the good news of the extraordinary achievements, at home and abroad, in both science and delivery of effective treatment, care, and prevention to people living with HIV or at risk of infection.” Morrison highlights the organization’s new AIDS 2012 course on iTunes U, noting readers can subscribe for additional updates on the conference (7/18). In a separate post, Julia Nagel, a web and social media associate at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, provides a guide to the course (7/18).
“As the two people who worked as physicians in the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic before the miracle of antiretroviral drug (ARV) therapy, and who now have the honor of leading the domestic and global HIV/AIDS programs for the Obama administration, we look back in awe of the American leadership that has transformed the epidemic in the 22 years since the International AIDS Conference was last held on U.S. soil,” Grant Colfax, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, write in this Washington Blade opinion piece. “As we remember the lives lost to this disease and commit to the vision of an AIDS-free generation, it’s worth reflecting on how U.S. leadership and U.S. investments to combat HIV/AIDS domestically and internationally are saving lives and turning the tide against the disease,” they continue.
With Africa’s “emerging position in the global order, … [a]stute African leaders are striving to ensure that this realignment delivers a new paradigm of partnership for sustainable health development — a partnership that is led by Africa, for Africans, through African-sourced solutions,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe writes in a Huffington Post “Impact Blog” opinion piece. The African Union is taking steps “to reduce the continent’s dependence on foreign solutions and foreign ‘aid’ while adopting and scaling up development solutions that have been proven to work in different African countries, and finding better and more sustainable approaches to financing them,” he states. “It makes a lot of sense to apply such an approach to addressing three killer diseases: AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria,” he continues, adding that “the overreliance of Africa’s AIDS response on foreign investments, foreign drugs and foreign solutions must be addressed.”
“In the build-up to the London Summit on Family Planning, there have been a lot of opinions expressed on blogs, in mainstream media coverage, in peer-reviewed journals, and even exchanges on the streets and at the water cooler,” Gary Darmstadt, head of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Family Health Division, writes in this post in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. “And it has been great to see the conversations happening, even with the criticisms and resistance that we have sometimes felt from both conservative and liberal sides of the issue while preparing for the Summit,” he continues. He adds, “I look forward to the exciting times to come as the Summit has concluded, commitments have been made, and now we put the conversations that have been building up for the last few months into action to bring contraceptives to 120 million new users in the next eight years” (7/16).
The recent announcement “that the Administration’s signature Global Health Initiative (GHI) was being replaced by a new Office of Global Health Diplomacy at State was greeted with withering criticism from many in the global health community,” PSI CEO Karl Hofmann writes in this post in the organization’s “Healthy Lives” blog. But “this change matters less than one might first think,” he continues, writing, “The aim to achieve greater integration of Washington agencies and their individual health appropriations was never as likely nor frankly important as the aim to achieve more integrated health programming at country level.” Hofmann concludes, “Putting more emphasis on making global health integration a programmatic reality at the country level is probably the right way for the Administration to bring GHI principles to life” (7/16).
Gates Foundation's Efforts To Improve Access To Contraceptives Will Improve Health, Lives Of Women, Children
“Supporters of women’s health ought to cheer the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s plan” to provide $1 billion over eight years to increasing women’s access to contraceptives and family planning services because the “effort underscores the critical role of family planning in the international battle to reduce poverty and improve maternal health,” a Seattle Times editorial states. While “Catholic leaders” and “social conservatives” might not agree with the effort, “Bill and Melinda Gates are not looking for a political or religious fight over women’s rights; they’re looking to add their resources to efforts to improve the lives and health of women and children,” according to the editorial.
“High levels of unmet need for contraception around the world have a very negative impact on women’s and children’s health and survival as well as on the prosperity of communities and nations,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “If these women had access to dependable voluntary contraception, unintended pregnancies would fall by more than 70 percent, 100,000 fewer women would die in childbirth, and nearly 600,000 fewer newborns would die each year,” she continues, adding, “If every woman had the option to leave a two-year gap between a birth and a subsequent pregnancy, deaths of children under five would fall by 13 percent.”
In this post on the Council of Foreign Relations’ “Asia Unbound” blog, Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the council, argues that China should abandon its so-called “one-child policy,” writing, “Despite the relaxation of the [law], China is increasingly suffering the consequences of a draconian policy that was put in place in the early 1980s.” Noting several reasons why the country should drop the law, including that it has “become a constant source of friction in China’s relations with the Western world” and is “undermining China’s international competitiveness,” Huang states, “Despite the huge social and international cost, it seems to be extremely difficult for the government to abandon the notorious policy” (7/12).