“When it comes to promoting global health, the American people have much to celebrate and be proud of. With strong bipartisan support, the U.S. government has not only committed many billions of dollars and saved many millions of lives, it has changed the way the world approaches foreign aid,” former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Mark Dybul writes in an opinion piece in The Hill. He highlights several U.S. initiatives, including the Millennium Challenge Corporation, PEPFAR, and the President’s Malaria Initiative, among others, “that definitively changed how the U.S. serves its global sisters and brothers,” and writes, “[T]hese solid investments in saving and lifting up lives have changed how people around the world view America and Americans.”
“More than 400 Kenyan AIDS activists have demonstrated in the capital, Nairobi, demanding that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief release some $500 million for HIV programs in Kenya that is stuck in the pipeline,” PlusNews reports. “The U.S. government recently revealed that close to $1.5 billion has been in the global PEPFAR pipeline for more than 18 months,” the news service notes, adding that the allocation to Kenya is the largest. According to the news service, “The protestors presented a memorandum listing their demands to U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration, head of PEPFAR-Kenya Katherine Perry, Kenya’s Director of Public Health Shahnaz Sharif, and other senior Ministry of Health officials.”
Allowing Countries To Use PEPFAR Funding For Voluntary Contraception For Women Aligns With GHI’s ‘Women-Centered’ Approach
“PEPFAR has said it will use” nearly $1.5 billion in unspent aid “to invest in commodities (condoms, HIV rapid test kits and voluntary medical male circumcision kits), systems and institutions, and program strengthening,” Suzanne Ehlers, president of Population Action International, writes in this post in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Here’s one idea that would offer a huge return on investment and save the lives of millions: voluntary contraception for women,” she continues, adding, “Voluntary contraception has been called ‘the best kept secret in HIV prevention’ and has a proven evidence base.”
Strategic Innovations Will Help Prevent HIV Transmission From Mothers To Children, High-Level Meeting Attendees State
At a High-Level Meeting on Innovation for Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission (EMTCT) on Friday in Washington, D.C., “HIV experts, business leaders, aid agencies and ambassadors of 22 priority countries — home to 90 percent of new HIV infections among children –” agreed that strategic innovations are necessary to curb the spread of the virus from women to their children, PANA/Afrique en Linge reports. “The priority countries are Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe,” the news service notes.
U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Tells GlobalPost State Department Reviewing Nearly $1.5B In Unused PEPFAR Funding
Prompted by an inquiry from GlobalPost, U.S. officials have said the Obama administration called for a $550 million reduction — an 11 percent cut — for its global AIDS program in its FY 2013 budget request because the “government didn’t need more money because there has been nearly $1.5 billion stuck in the pipeline for 18 months or more,” GlobalPost reports. According to the news service, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, headed by Ambassador Eric Goosby, “said this week it will immediately start a consultation period with Congress, its partners across the U.S. government and AIDS advocates to address a key question: What should they do with $1.46 billion?” GlobalPost reports that Goosby “explained that $1.46 billion designated to fight AIDS hasn’t been used because of inefficient bureaucracies; major reductions in the cost of AIDS treatment; delays due to long negotiations on realigning programs with recipient country priorities; and a slowdown in a few countries because the AIDS problem was much smaller than originally estimated” (Donnelly, 4/17).
In this post on the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby provides an update on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, stating, “I am buoyed by the reform that is happening at the Fund under the leadership of new General Manager Gabriel Jaramillo.” He adds, “When PEPFAR and the Fund coordinate, our investments against AIDS are expanded both geographically and programmatically. Simply put, a strong PEPFAR requires a strong Global Fund.” Goosby concludes, “I am proud of the U.S. commitment to the Global Fund, in part because it is a commitment to the work of PEPFAR. We have a unique opportunity in a tight fiscal environment to support the Fund at this critical juncture” (4/9).
Inexpensive Female Genital Schistosomiasis Prevention Could Help Reduce Women’s Risk Of HIV Infection
In this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post, Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, describes female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), which affects more than 100 million women and girls in Africa and “causes horrific pain and bleeding in the uterus, cervix and lower genital tract, not to mention social stigma and depression.” According to studies, women affected by FGS “have a three- to four-fold increase in the risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS,” but a low-cost drug called praziquantel may prevent FGS “and therefore also serve as a low-cost AIDS prevention strategy if it is administered annually to African girls and women beginning in their school-aged years,” he notes.
A new report from Advocates for Youth “analyzes youth policies within the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), including its legislative authority, most recent five-year strategy, relevant guidance documents, and all 21 currently available PEPFAR country Partnership Frameworks” and includes “a set of recommendations for the U.S. Congress, [Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC)], and Partner Country governments, to design and implement the bold policy needed to support youth sexual and reproductive health and rights, including promotion of comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly, integrated, HIV and family planning services,” Advocates for Youth Executive Vice President Debra Hauser writes in an RH Reality Check blog post. She concludes, “In the end, it is young people who hold the key to ending this epidemic. That’s why they should be at the center, not the periphery, of our programs and policies” (4/3).
Less Expensive ARV Combination Just As Effective For Women In Developing Countries As Costlier ARVs, Study Shows
A new study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston shows that the less-expensive antiretroviral nevirapine, when used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), is as effective as a more expensive combination among women in developing countries, VOA News reports. While the nevirapine-containing combination was not as effective as some ARV combinations available in the U.S., “about 83 percent of women were able to suppress their virus and stay alive and well after starting the nevirapine-based regimen,” according to lead author Shahin Lockman, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, who looked at the combinations among 500 African women with late-stage HIV infection, according to the news service.
During a live webcast discussing recent changes at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “[p]anelists discussed the fund’s new strategy and what this strategy means for the global fight against these three diseases,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports. J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted the Global Fund’s new general manager, Gabriel Jaramillo, had moved quickly in focusing on restructuring and realigning the fund, according to the blog. Todd Summers, independent consultant and chair of the Strategy, Investment & Impact Committee at the Global Fund, said, “Now we see lots of opportunity to really make a big difference and change forever the trajectory” of the epidemics, “Global Pulse” notes.