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.”
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.”
“Thirty years ago, the CDC reported the first cases of HIV/AIDS in New York and Los Angeles,” Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Kwei Quartey writes in the Huffington Post World Blog, noting, “Since the beginning of the epidemic, over 600,000 people have died of AIDS in the United States, and 1.2 million people are currently living with HIV.” He briefly recounts a history of the disease in both the U.S. and Africa, writing, “Initially thought to be a disease of gay white men, AIDS is now a global epidemic.” He continues, “Whatever its origins, HIV/AIDS became a severe epidemic in East Africa in the 1980s,” noting, “The initial response by African governments to the AIDS crisis was inadequate, and in some cases absent.”
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).
“When President Barack Obama and [Republican presidential nominee] Gov. Mitt Romney debate Monday in Boca Raton for the final time, on foreign policy issues, I hope they will give us a chance to compare their visions of our country’s role in global health,” John May, chief medical officer of Armor Correctional Health Services in Miami, writes in a Palm Beach Post opinion piece. “It is a topic they have yet to address and have only touched on in their party platforms, perhaps because they are reluctant to discuss spending money in other countries,” but “it is important for voters to understand that, at about one-fourth of one percent of the federal budget, global health spending has little impact on the deficit while it addresses tremendous challenges,” he continues.
“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).
PEPFAR has released its “Fiscal Year 2013 Country Operational Plan (COP) Guidance” on its website. The document (.pdf) provides guidance with respect to COP preparation; priorities and approaches for FY 2013; mandatory earmarks and reporting requirements; COP elements; as well as management and operations (October 2012).
Fareed Abdullah, CEO of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), who took office in July, spoke with PlusNews regarding the body’s reform, the revival of provincial AIDS councils, resource mobilization, and the appointment of a new board that allows SANAC to operate independently. According to the news service, Abdullah said the secretariat has three times as many staff as it did three months ago, adding, “We have a team of eight people working on the grant renewal process for about five Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria] grants. We’ve committed two staff members to dealing with PEPFAR [the U.S.-based President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] and the new agreement to co-manage programs, and we’ll expand [staff] as the needs expand” (10/11).
“Construction has begun on Ethiopia’s National Public Health Training Center, the first of its kind to be established in the country at a cost of $4 million,” Malaysian News Agency Bernama reports, noting, “The U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) committed to the cost of the project, while the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will manage the construction of the ground and three facilities which are expected to be completed by April 2014” (10/23). “It will be the first national training center for health, according to the press statement from the United States Embassy in Ethiopia,” according to New Business Ethiopia, which adds, “The new national public health training center will be a state-of-the-art facility that will act as a training and support hub for Ethiopia’s national public health monitoring, research, and laboratory network” (10/23).
In this Foreign Affairs opinion piece, Todd Moss, vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and former deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department, reflects on President Obama’s approach to Africa, discussing various policies by the current and previous administrations. Moss compares Obama’s approach to Africa with that of his predecessors, highlighting former President Bill Clinton’s African Growth and Opportunity Act, “which reduced trade barriers on more than 1,800 products exported from the continent to the United States,” and former President George W. Bush’s launching of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the President’s Malaria Initiative, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.