A new report, titled “Injection Drug Use in Ukraine” and published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), examines the challenges of providing HIV prevention and care services in the country, particularly to people who inject drugs (PWID), who accounted for “nearly 50 percent of new HIV infections registered in 2010,” according to the CSIS website. Authors Phillip Nieburg, senior associate and co-chair of the Prevention Committee of the CSIS HIV/AIDS Task Force, and Lisa Carty, senior adviser in the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, also examine how the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and PEPFAR could help Ukraine “in advancing HIV prevention and other services for PWID,” the website notes (3/16).
Swazi, South African Activists March To U.S. Consulate In Johannesburg To Call For Emergency Global Fund Meeting
“Almost a thousand Swazi and South African HIV activists marched to the United States consulate in Johannesburg on [Thursday] to demand that the U.S. continue supporting the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria, and safeguard funding of its President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” PlusNews reports. “The march organizers — a coalition of international and regional HIV organizations, including the global medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the World AIDS Campaign, and the AIDS Rights Alliance Southern Africa — also called on the British and Australian governments to join their American counterparts in kick-starting a response to solve the Global Fund’s financial crisis,” according to the news service.
“Government assurances that the scaling back of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program in South Africa (SA) will be carefully managed to protect patients are welcome, but … [t]he reality is that the Department of Health is struggling to cope with severe medical staff shortages, financial resources that never seem to stretch far enough, inadequate infrastructure and maintenance programs, and administrative bottlenecks,” a Business Day editorial states. Though the reworking of PEPFAR funding will take place over five years “and does not entail the complete loss” of funding, “the shortfall will have to come from somewhere,” the editorial says, adding, “It will be tragic if, just as we are starting to see light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in SA, the gains of the past few years were to be reversed due to the loss of critical foreign funding and the government’s lack of capacity to plug the gap.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released two reports on issues related to global health. In “Ensuring Drug Quality in Global Health Programs,” the agency writes, “Concerns have been raised about the potential for substandard drugs to enter the supply chains of global health programs,” and notes that it concluded, “U.S.-funded global health programs have put regulatory and policy requirements in place to help prevent procurement of substandard drugs” (8/1). In another report looking at the WHO, titled “Reform Agenda Developed, but U.S. Actions to Monitor Progress Could be Enhanced,” GAO found, “The United States has provided input into WHO’s reform agenda, particularly in the areas of transparency and accountability, but the Department of State’s (State) tool for assessing progress in the area of management reform could be enhanced” (7/23).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday visited officials in South Africa and discussed the response to HIV/AIDS, the Associated Press/Huffington Post reports. Speaking with Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane “in the second cabinet-level strategic dialogue between the two nations,” Clinton said “that global efforts to stop the virus ‘have saved hundreds of thousands of lives,’” the news service writes. “In South Africa, 5.7 million people — 17.8 percent of the population — have tested positive for HIV,” and PEPFAR “has spent $3.2 billion on antiretroviral drugs and HIV prevention programs in [the country] since 2004,” according to the AP.
“With Congress adjourned until after Labor Day and not a single funding bill for the federal fiscal year beginning October signed into law before the recess even began, the virtual standstill of legislative action could have a mixed impact on global health funding,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “It appears that House and Senate leaders have reached a tentative agreement to fund most government programs under a so-called ‘continuing resolution’ that would essentially continue funding for most programs at current levels through March 30, 2013,” the blog writes, adding, “PEPFAR is likely to see at least a modest cut from current funding so that resolution could delay or potentially reduce the overall hit to the program” (Lubinski , 8/10).
“For the past two weeks, the buzz in Washington, D.C., and at the White House is all about women and girls,” Roxana Rogers, director of the USAID Office of HIV/AIDS, writes in this “IMPACTblog” post. She highlights a recently announced initiative, funded through PEPFAR, “to help local communities and grassroots organizations fight HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence [GBV].” Rogers continues, “Partnerships between U.S. agencies, civil society, private corporations, and international institutions are key to tackling these issues,” and describes several USAID-supported programs working to address HIV/AIDS and GBV (3/15).
In the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, notes that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the XIX International AIDS Conference in July that all women should be able to decide “when and whether to have children” and that PEPFAR, in a guidance [.pdf] released last week, said, “Voluntary family planning should be part of comprehensive quality care for persons living with HIV,” and referred to family planning as a human right. “Then, in bold type, they punctuated it with, ‘PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities,’” she writes. “They take it a step further with a caveat that before anyone decides they’d like their program to have anything to do with family planning, they had best consult relevant U.S. legal counsel first,” she adds. “To be fair, they do say that PEPFAR programs can just refer women to a different program that offers family planning,” but those programs are not always available, Sippel writes, adding, “So the suggestion is flawed from the start.”
GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog examines the issue of HIV/AIDS in the presidential election, writing, “This campaign season, the fight against HIV/AIDS has been absent from the press materials released by both President [Barack] Obama and [Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt] Romney — as well as from the conversation.” The blog provides examples of Obama’s actions addressing HIV domestically and abroad and summarizes remarks on the epidemic made by Romney during the campaign. The blog includes quotes from several experts and officials (Judem, 10/8).
“On Wednesday, October 10, U.S. and Bahamian officials attended the official launch of ‘The Caribbean Grant Solicitation and Management Program,’ a new PEPFAR initiative that will be executed locally by the U.S.-based nonprofit World Learning through USAID,” a press release from the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas, reports. “The main goals of these grants include: educating people, especially youth, about HIV/AIDS and thereby preventing its spread; reducing stigma and encouraging safe practices for those living with the disease; and supporting communities to cooperate in fighting the epidemic,” the press release notes, adding, “Project proposals are being accepted through November 16, 2012” (10/10).