“With back-to-back Republican and Democratic National Conventions, it’s natural to focus on our differences,” but “I am heartened to see the bipartisan support that exists for U.S. leadership in the world — particularly for our global development efforts,” Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture and chair of the Board of the Center for U.S. Global Leadership, writes in a Politico opinion piece. “Through programs like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, initiatives started [during the administration of] President George W. Bush, nearly four million lives around the world have been saved,” he continues, noting, “President Barack Obama has continued to champion and support global development efforts like PEPFAR and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which demand results and ensure accountability for U.S. taxpayers.”
“[W]hat will the day be like when we finally defeat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria?” Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, asks in the Huffington Post’s “The Big Push” blog. “[W]ith the launch today of The Big Push campaign — co-sponsored by the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] and the Huffington Post — this might be more than a thought exercise … because the progress that’s been made against these diseases in only the last 10 years has been so staggering that we may actually be in sight of the day when no child is born with HIV, nobody dies of malaria and we stop the spread of tuberculosis,” she continues and provides some statistics.
On Monday in Maputo, Mozambique, U.S. Ambassador Douglas Griffiths signed funding agreements with 29 community-based organizations that will receive a total of $1.4 million through PEPFAR’s small grants program “to strengthen health systems, boost professional training and implement income generating activities for people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS,” the Mozambique News Agency/AllAfrica.com reports. “Because of your local knowledge, we can reach the most affected communities and spread messages about preventing HIV, treatment, and the available care and support,” Griffiths said, according to the news service, which notes the money “from the U.S. embassy for the fight against HIV/AIDS is not new” (9/24).
In this post on the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Research Fellow Victoria Fan, Director of Global Health Policy Amanda Glassman, and Research Assistant Rachel Silverman of CGD examine what they call the “serious limitations” of a study published recently in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene that looked at the impact of HIV/AIDS funding on Rwanda’s health system. After describing several “shortcomings,” they write, “We understand that the authors likely suffered from significant data constraints; likewise, we recognize the enormous empirical challenges in demonstrating system-wide effects at the national level. Still, it remains important to carefully state results and recognize the limitations of one’s research.” They conclude, “The jury is still out on whether HIV/AIDS funding has displaced or improved efforts on other disease control priorities” (5/10).
In a recent edition of VOA News’ “Science In The News,” correspondents Bob Doughty and Shirley Griffith report on “the growing use of generic drugs in fighting HIV” and discuss “the search for an effective vaccine against HIV.” They highlight a study of the effectiveness of PEPFAR conducted by researchers from Brown University in Rhode Island, noting lead researcher Kartik Venkatesh “says the high cost of patented antiretroviral drugs had an immediate influence on the program after it began.” They continue, “American officials considered whether to provide patented drugs to HIV-infected patients, both in the United States and overseas,” adding, “Using generic drugs helped cut the cost of treating a person [in a developing country] from about $1,100 a year to about $300 a year in 2005.”
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby on Monday “announced a joint initiative to provide $4.65 million in small grants to grassroots organizations to address gender-based violence (GBV) issues” through HIV/AIDS programs, according to a State Department press release. With funding coming from PEPFAR, “the initiative supports programs that prevent and respond to GBV, with a link to HIV prevention, treatment and care,” the press release states, adding, “Grants of up to $100,000 for programs that leverage existing HIV/AIDS platforms will be awarded to organizations working in one of more than 80 PEPFAR countries” (3/14).
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.”
“At a public event [held Tuesday] on Capitol Hill, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria spotlighted the contributions of public-private partnerships to the Global Fund’s lifesaving work,” a joint press release (.pdf) reports. The event highlighted the “unique and essential roles” that partners like Chevron, the Coca-Cola Company, (RED) and PEPFAR play in improving lives around the globe, “[f]rom assistance in drug delivery, to supplying much-needed resources, to mobilizing consumer markets, to in-country partnerships,” according to the press release. “The partners highlighted at the Capitol Hill event have not only provided funding, but have also brought their individual expertise to the Global Fund, sharing their knowledge and building bridges between the public, private and health sectors,” the press release states (3/20).
“For the first time in over 20 years, the biennial International AIDS Conference will be hosted on American soil,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in this post in the AIDS.gov blog. “From July 22 to 27, AIDS 2012 will convene scientists, health professionals, policymakers and those affected by AIDS in Washington, D.C., to assess progress to date and identify next steps in the global response,” he writes. He notes, “The conference theme, Turning the Tide Together, underscores the pivotal moment in which AIDS 2012 is taking place,” and discusses the role that the U.S. has played in achieving scientific progress in the fight against AIDS since it was identified 30 years ago (3/15).
Nature examines how funding shortfalls are hampering global efforts to use drugs to curb the spread of HIV, writing, “[A]t this week’s annual Conference on RetroÂviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, Washington, there was growing concern that financial austerity in the United States and elsewhere is eating away at the funding needed for a worldwide prevention effort.” The journal cites proposed reductions “to direct international aid for HIV programs under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)” in President Barack Obama’s FY 2013 budget request and an announcement by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last November that it had cancelled Round 11 grants “until 2014 because of tightening budgets in donor countries.”