“There is a lot of optimism now in the community of public health officials and advocates who work on AIDS. … But, even as we know more, there are still disputes about how best to move forward on both prevention and treatment,” commentator Richard Socarides, a former White House adviser under President Bill Clinton, writes in the New Yorker’s “News Desk” blog. “Such is the nature of AIDS, especially as it involves an attempt to understand the complexity of human behavior as it relates to sex,” he adds.
Progress In AIDS Fight Must Be An Impetus For Increasing Investment, Sustaining Advancements In Africa
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe examines the role of the fight against AIDS in sustaining economic and social development in Africa. “Africa is breaking records,” he writes, noting the economic growth, increased access to information, rise in democracy, decline in poverty, increased school enrollment — especially for girls — and decline in AIDS-related deaths on the continent. “Africa is now poised to push towards a new vision of: zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths,” and “it needs everyone’s support,” he continues.
In this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy for amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, responds to a recently released analysis of adult mortality rates in African countries, which “found that between 2004 and 2008, in those nations where the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was most active, the odds of death were about 20 percent lower than in other countries in the region.” He writes, “It was one more piece in the growing collection of evidence that PEPFAR has been a tremendously successful program, advancing U.S. humanitarian and diplomatic priorities and saving millions of lives.” Collins continues, “That is why the proposal in President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget to cut bi-lateral HIV programming through PEPFAR by nearly $550 million, or 11 percent, has stunned so many on Capitol Hill and in the global health community.”
Daniel Wolfe, director of the International Harm Reduction Development Program, part of the Open Society Public Health Program, writes in the Open Society Foundations’ blog about “a recent joint U.N. statement calling for the immediate closure of the hundreds of centers in which drug users are detained in the name of treatment,” saying the statement “came not a moment too soon.” He continues, “This call for closure of drug detention camps comes after years of horrifying reports of abuses in these facilities.” According to Wolfe, “The message, endorsed by agencies such as UNAIDS, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, and the International Labor Organization, is unequivocal. Locking people up and abusing them in the name of drug rehabilitation is ineffective. It violates human rights. And countries shouldn’t do it” (3/13).
Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), addresses a recent New York Times article on “medical brain drain” in this CGD “Global Development: Views From The Center” blog post, saying the article’s approval of “a horrific proposal to put recruiters of health workers on trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity … is breathtakingly misguided.” He continues, “Recruiters do not ‘steal’ people. They give information to people about jobs those people are qualified for. The professional ambitions of those people have equal value to yours and mine, and those ambitions cannot be realized without information.” Clemens says “coercively blocking the unconditional right of a health worker to emigrate — such as by declaring her to be owned by a government and prosecuting her recruiter at The Hague — is a crime against humanity,” and cites several other articles he has written on the subject (3/12).
In this Globe and Mail opinion piece, columnist Andre Picard examines the efforts of a new group, the Global Congenital Syphilis Partnership — which includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Save The Children, the CDC, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the WHO — to “make screening for syphilis a routine part of pregnancy care with the goal of eliminating congenital syphilis.” Picard writes, “According to the World Health Organization, some 2.1 million women with syphilis give birth every year,” and notes, “Almost 70 percent of their babies are stillborn, and many of the rest suffer from low birth weight (putting them at great risk for a host of illnesses), hearing loss, vision loss and facial deformities.”
“The rising enthusiasm for providing more medicines threatens to come at the expense of promising initiatives for preventing HIV infections in the first place — initiatives that could save many lives, with less money,” Craig Timberg, the newspaper’s deputy national security editor, and Daniel Halperin, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, write in this Washington Post opinion piece. “Ambitious treatment efforts and smart prevention programs are, of course, not inherently at odds. But especially in an era of fiscal constraint, these two goals could come into conflict,” they write, continuing, “The result, wasteful in dollars spent and lives diminished, would represent only the latest misjudgment by powerful donor nations such as the United States, which still struggle to understand the root causes of an epidemic that has spread most widely in weaker, poorer nations.”
In a letter (.pdf) published Wednesday in the Lancet, officials from the CDC refute “point by point” three letters previously published in the journal that were critical of the agency’s Center for Global Health, ScienceInsider reports. Lancet Editor Richard Horton on February 11 “published criticisms of the institution’s Center for Global Health that he received from an anonymous letter writer” and then “ran complaints made by two more unnamed critics of the CDC center on March 3,” the news service states, adding, “As Horton noted, the letters ‘raise questions about leadership, management of resources, proper use of the CDC’s authority and power, and the scientific rigor of CDC research.’”
“As we honor the enormous impact women have on their families and communities worldwide, we also call on lawmakers to do more for global maternal and newborn health,” Former White House Press Secretaries Mike McCurry and Dana Perino write in a post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” marking International Women’s Day, which was celebrated on Thursday. “When we reach out with simple interventions to promote health and save women’s lives, we build international allies for life,” they write.
“The health status of women is linked to their fundamental freedoms and empowerment,” Susan Blumenthal, public health editor at the Huffington Post and former U.S. assistant surgeon general, and Jean Guo, a health policy intern at the Center for the Study of Presidency and Congress, write in the website’s “Healthy Living” blog in a post marking International Women’s Day, which was celebrated on Thursday. “With 3.4 billion women worldwide, women’s health is a global issue today. Yet, societal and environmental factors including poverty, discrimination, and violence are undermining the advancement of women’s health,” they write.