Noting the International AIDS Conference is being held in the U.S. for the first time in more than 20 years, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reflects on an event with “government leaders, philanthropists, faith leaders, entrepreneurs and entertainers at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theatre [Saturday] night to recognize what the world has achieved in turning the tide on AIDS,” in this post in the foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. Gates says the event “offered a great stage to share success stories and talk about the importance of sustained HIV funding,” and concludes, “Americans can be justifiably proud of the tremendous moral leadership that the U.S. has taken in producing breakthrough innovations in the fight against HIV” (7/22).
In this post in the Huffington Post’s “Opportunity” blog, Orin Levine, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC), examines “some of the available facts on global health and jobs in swing states and [presents] three reasons why the presidential campaigns should pay more attention to global health than they have so far.” Levine writes, “According to the Duke Global Health Institute, in 2007, global health contributed an estimated 7,000 jobs, more than $500,000,000 in wages and salaries and had an economic impact of $1.7-2.0 billion on the North Carolina economy”; “[n]early one-half of all the funding for global health from [USAID] went to Virginia-based institutions — over $560 million in FY 2011 and 2012 alone,” which “no doubt provide jobs to hundreds of Virginians”; and “U.S. contributions to global health and policies towards regulation, research and investments that build systems in emerging market countries will have a major impact on thousands of jobs” in Pennsylvania, where “Merck, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and others have major manufacturing, commercial and research presences” (7/20).
In this post in The Hill’s “Congress Blog,” Mark Dybul, former U.S. global AIDS coordinator, examines “whether the U.S. should continue its efforts to increase support to local hospitals, governments and faith- and community-based groups in developing countries to promote self-sufficiency so that, over time, countries take over responsibility for the health and well-being of their citizens.” Dybul notes the Bush Administration “began a significant push in this direction” with PEPFAR and the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Obama Administration “has picked up, evolved and expanded this strategy.” He writes, “The reason for the strong bipartisan agreement is rather simple: it’s the right thing to do for the American taxpayer to save and lift up more lives with the highest return on investment — and that, in turn, is good for our national economy and security” (7/20).
“[D]isappointingly, one group that will be absent [from the XIX International AIDS Conference next week] due to U.S. travel restrictions is sex workers,” a Lancet editorial states. “Sex workers have been extremely neglected as a population in the global response to HIV/AIDS, despite their substantially heightened risk of HIV infection and propensity to transmit new infections into general populations,” the editorial continues, adding, “Yet global funding allocations have been inadequate or restricted policies have been applied, such as the U.S. anti-prostitution pledge, which has greatly limited research and the response to HIV in sex workers. Furthermore, the conflation of sex work with human trafficking, and the disregard of sex work as work, has meant that sex workers’ rights have not been properly recognized.”
“President Barack Obama has a standing invitation to speak at the [XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., next week], and he likely would be welcomed with loud cheers given his progressive HIV/AIDS policies,” journalist Jon Cohen writes in a Slate opinion piece. “But Obama apparently can’t carve out the time, which both runs the risk of angering a volatile community and squandering a historic opportunity,” he continues. Though some “U.S. government officials who have made presentations at the meeting … have weathered humiliating greetings, … Obama would face none of this hostility,” Cohen writes, noting that the U.S. “today spends more money on HIV/AIDS research than all countries combined and also is the single most generous donor to the global effort to combat the disease.”
“Too few people realize that the health of Americans and the health of people around the world are inextricably linked,” Kevin De Cock, director of the Center for Global Health of the CDC, writes in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog. He continues, “In short, investing in global health isn’t just about humanitarianism. Cooperation across borders is essential in an increasingly connected world where diseases move as freely as people and products. It is in America’s interest to be a true global partner on health” (7/19).
“Ahead of the International AIDS Conference next week in Washington, D.C., Martin Bloem, chief of Nutrition and HIV Policy at the World Food Programme, shares the impact of food and nutrition on the HIV response,” in this post in the ONE Blog. “Scientific evidence and our own experience shows that nutrition activities for people living with HIV — including nutritional assessments, counseling, education and fortified food for malnourished patients — has significant impacts on the health of patients, on their ability to stay on treatment and on the effectiveness of treatment,” he writes (7/19).
“Urban America continues to suffer high rates of HIV despite successes of antiretroviral treatment that can suppress the virus, decrease transmission, prevent progression to AIDS, and lower death rates,” Gregory Pappas, senior deputy director of the Washington, D.C., Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA), writes in a Washington Blade opinion piece. “The global U.S. response known as the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) succeeded by enhancing funding, coordinating government efforts and working across jurisdictions,” he states, adding, “A domestic PEPFAR would emphasize enhanced spending, promote regional data, and plan and coordinate services regionally.”
In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Jenny Ottenhoff, policy outreach associate at the center, says “four big issues will impact U.S. support for the global response to the [AIDS] epidemic over the coming year.” According to Ottenhoff, these issues include the FY 2013 budget; the upcoming presidential election; “looming, automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that will be triggered under sequestration in January 2013”; and the potential reauthorization of PEPFAR, which will be decided in 2013. “These storm clouds over AIDS funding could turn out to have a silver lining if austerity creates pressures to improve the global response to AIDS in ways that make it more effective and efficient,” she writes (7/18).
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.