In this opinion piece in the Atlantic, Mark Harrington, co-founder and executive director of the Treatment Action Group (TAG), says that stronger leadership from the U.S. is needed in order to end the AIDS epidemic. Harrington notes that “earlier this year, [President Obama] proposed a shocking cut of $550 million to [PEPFAR], the most successful U.S.-funded global health program in history,” and highlights his absence from “the first International AIDS Conference to be held on American soil since … 1990.” He provides “a to do list the president should consider if he wants to walk the walk,” which includes “[f]ully fund[ing] PEPFAR and support[ing] its reauthorization in 2013,” “[f]ully support[ing] the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” “[r]eject[ing] the congressional ban on federal funding for needle exchange,” “[r]evis[ing] and revitaliz[ing] the National HIV/AIDS Strategy,” increasing funding for NIH, and “fully funding the research, prevention, care, and treatment” needed to end the epidemic (7/24).
RECENT RELEASE: Kaiser Family Foundation Releases Report Comparing AIDS Responses Of U.S., Other High-Income Countries
The Kaiser Family Foundation on Tuesday released a report titled, “Responding to AIDS at Home & Abroad: How the U.S. and Other High Income Countries Compare,” (.pdf) which “examines the United States’ response to HIV over the last 30 years compared to … seven other similarly situated nations — Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom,” according to the report’s webpage. “Key areas examined include governance of the national responses, the roles of affected communities and non-governmental actors, policies relating to HIV testing, prevention, care and treatment, and stigma and discrimination,” the webpage states (7/24).
The Financial Times examines efforts by “Ethiopian policymakers, faced with a rapidly expanding population and rising numbers of HIV/AIDS infections,” to integrate family planning into HIV counseling and testing programs in the country. “When counseling women on reproductive health or child immunization, family planning clinics can also discuss HIV testing and prevention, particularly condom use, as well as introducing pregnant women to mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention services,” the newspaper notes.
In this New York Times opinion piece, columnist Nicholas Kristof examines the effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid, writing, “In this election year in the United States, there’ll be bitter debates about what should be cut from budgets, and one thing Democrats and Republicans seem to agree on is that foreign aid is bloated.” He states, “In fact, all foreign aid accounts for about one percent of federal spending — and that includes military assistance and a huge, politically driven check made out to Israel, a wealthy country that is the largest recipient of American aid.” He continues, “On my annual win-a-trip journey with a university student — this year it’s Jordan Schermerhorn of Rice University — we’ve been seeing how assistance changed the course of the AIDS epidemic in Lesotho and Malawi.”
“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.”
The Washington Blade compares U.S. HIV/AIDS efforts under the administrations of former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. According to the news service, “Some praise the Obama administration for laying out a comprehensive plan and bumping up domestic funding to confront the epidemic, while others yearn for the Bush days because of the global initiatives the Republican president started.” The article goes on to highlight major accomplishments and criticisms of each administration (Johnson, 7/19).
KFF Webcast Assesses President Obama’s FY 2012 Budget Proposal, Potential Global Health Implications
The Kaiser Family Foundation held a live “In Focus” webcast on Tuesday “to assess President Obama’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal and potential implications for global health,” the foundation writes on its website. The webcast features a panel of global health policy experts, moderated by Jen Kates, vice president and director of global health & HIV policy at the foundation, “who analyze the Administration’s proposal and how it compares to current funding levels, what may happen as the budget winds its way through Congress, and the implications for the future of U.S. global health programs,” according to the website, which provides links to the panelists’ biographies (.pdf), the foundation’s Budget Tracker and a fact sheet on U.S. funding for the Global Health Initiative, among other resources (2/22). A post in the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog provides quotes from panelists Beth Tritter, managing director of the Glover Park Group; Larry Nowels, a consultant with the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign and the ONE Campaign; and Ambassador Mark Dybul, co-director of the Global Health Law Program at Georgetown University Law Center’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law (Aziz, 2/21). The Medill School of Journalism’s “Medill on the Hill” also covered the discussion (Morello, 2/21).
The Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC) — consisting of 40 global health research and advocacy organizations — on Tuesday held a congressional briefing to launch its third annual policy report, titled “Sustaining Progress: Creating U.S. policies to spur global health innovation,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports (Donnelly, 2/28). The group is “warning deep cuts in the U.S. federal budget could reverse progress made on many diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria,” VOA News writes (DeCapua, 2/28).
“The world has lost momentum in the fight against the AIDS epidemic, with millions of new people infected last year, the ONE foundation said in a report,” titled “The Beginning of the End? Tracking Global Commitments on AIDS” and released on Tuesday, Reuters reports. In its annual report last week, UNAIDS said despite advances in access to medicines that both treat and prevent HIV infection, 2.5 million new cases of HIV occurred in 2011, according to the news service. “That is more than double the target of having only 1.1 million people newly infected each year, said ONE,” according to Reuters.
Emmanuel Njeuhmeli, senior biomedical prevention adviser in the USAID Office of HIV/AIDS, writes in the agency’s “IMPACTblog” that the first International Men’s Day on November 19 was an opportunity to “recognize and celebrate the hundreds of thousands of men in East and Southern Africa who are stepping up for Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) to protect their own health and that of their families.” He continues, “We also recognize the political, traditional and community leaders who are leading the charge in their countries and local communities.” According to Njeuhmeli, who describes some VMMC programs of USAID and PEPFAR, “USAID and UNAIDS have estimated that VMMC has the potential to avert more than 3.4 million new HIV infections in 14 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, and save an estimated $16.5 billion in care and treatment over the next 15 years, freeing up resources for other crucial HIV interventions” (11/27).