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USAID Committed To Improving Lives Of Children Affected By HIV/AIDS

“Despite many gains in the fight against AIDS, children still lag far behind adults in access to important medical services, including HIV prevention, care, and treatment,” Jen Pollakusky, communications analyst at USAID’s Bureau of Global Health Office of HIV/AIDS, writes in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” noting that Monday marked the 10th anniversary of World AIDS Orphan Day. “By partnering with national governments, communities, and other organizations, USAID is committed to improving the lives of children orphaned and made vulnerable by AIDS — a critical step in the path to achieving an AIDS-free generation,” she writes, adding “we need to step-up our early intervention efforts for children under five years old” and “work with families to help them become more economically stable so they can access essential services and better provide for their children” (5/7).

PEPFAR Releases 8th Annual Report To Congress

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog notes that PEPFAR recently released its 8th annual report (.pdf) to Congress. “The five-page document outlines the program’s progress as of the end of fiscal year 2011 in various areas,” including the provision of antiretroviral treatment, care, and support; HIV testing and counseling for pregnant women; and prevention of mother-to-child transmission services, the blog notes. The report includes sections on “leading with science,” “smart investments,” “country ownership,” and “shared responsibility,” according to the blog (Mazzotta, 5/4).

Preventing Mother-To-Child Transmission Of HIV Is ‘Smart Investment’

“Each year, nearly 400,000 children are born with HIV globally, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) is a particular challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, an area characterized by weak health systems,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in the State Department “DipNote” blog. “Last year PEPFAR and UNAIDS joined with other partners to launch the Global Plan, an initiative to eliminate new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive,” Goosby writes and reflects on a two-day mission to Nigeria with UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe last week. He concludes, “Preventing new HIV infections in children is a smart investment that saves lives, and the United States is proud to partner with Nigeria and other countries in this cause” (4/30).

Florida Senator Marco Rubio Addresses Future Of U.S. Foreign Policy

“On April 25, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for a major address on the future of U.S. foreign policy,” according to an event summary on the organization’s website. “Senator Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, examined whether U.S. global leadership is sustainable and even necessary in the 21st century” and “explored what Americans need to do at this juncture, abroad and at home, to adapt and prepare for the changing international environment in the years ahead,” the summary states (4/26). “Millions of human beings are alive today because the United States, and others in the global community, are paying for their antiviral medication. … We need to continue this kind of foreign aid investment, not just in PEPFAR, but in malaria control and vaccine programs and in agriculture initiatives so that we can make similar strides in preventing hunger and establishing a healthy global community,” he said, according to a speech transcript (.pdf) (4/25).

U.S. Government ‘Catalyzing’ International Community To End Preventable Child Deaths

“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.”

Kenyan AIDS Activists Protest Over Unspent PEPFAR Funds

“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.”

5 Reasons Global Health Programs Should ‘Be Spared The Chopping Block’

“President Obama and his GOP challenger Mitt Romney have both prioritized deficit reduction, which, of course, is a worthy goal,” former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), chair of the non-profit Hope Through Healing Hands, writes in an opinion piece in The Week. “[M]any surveys put global health at the top of the list of things to slash. That’s a mistake,” he continues and lists five reasons why global health programs “ought to be spared the chopping block.”

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).

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