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Goosby Calls For ‘Extraordinary Resources’ To Be Put Into Male Circumcision To Prevent HIV Infection

Male circumcision is “a highly significant, lifetime intervention” to prevent HIV infection that deserves “extraordinary resources,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby on Monday told a meeting of 400 army officials from 80 countries in Africa, Eastern Europe and central Asia, Agence France-Presse reports. Studies have shown that male circumcision can significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection, the news agency notes, adding that the U.S. “is sponsoring programs in several African countries with a goal of circumcising four million men by 2013.”

Debate Continues Over Needle/Syringe Exchange Programs

Matt Fisher, a research assistant at the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ Global Health Policy Center, summarizes the ongoing debate in Congress over needle and syringe exchange programs (NSEPs) in this post on the SmartGlobalHealth.org blog. He presents a history of NSEPs and notes, “President Obama recently signed the FY12 omnibus spending bill that, among other things, reinstated the ban on the use of federal funds for needle and syringe exchange programs (NSEPs); this step reversed the 111th Congress’ 2009 decision to allow federal funds to be used for these programs.” He concludes that despite scientific evidence that NSEPs are an effective public health intervention, “ideological and moral opposition remains,” and therefore, “the issue of federal funding will continue to be actively debated” (2/6).

Supporting Scientific Evidence Under PEPFAR To End AIDS

On Wednesday, several HIV experts spoke at a Capitol Hill briefing “supporting the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program’s reliance on scientific evidence to drive its work to end AIDS,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. The speakers, including Diane Havlir of the University of California, San Francisco, RJ Simonds of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Renee Ridzon of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, talked about using antiretroviral treatment as a prevention method, the prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision, and preventing HIV among marginalized populations at high risk of infection (Mazzotta, 2/3).

PEPFAR Scientific Advisory Board Meets To Discuss Implementation Science, Coordination

The PEPFAR scientific advisory board met this week to discuss implementation science; reaching key populations, such as drug users and men who have sex with men; and coordinating HIV testing, prevention, treatment and care efforts, the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “When [efficiency, impact, and the relevance of targets] are weighed against intentions and costs, the discipline at work is called ‘implementation science,’ and that is the science, PEPFAR leadership is hoping, that will bring the possibilities of biomedical advances and commitment to fruition,” the blog writes. U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby discussed the disconnect between the people planning HIV/AIDS services and those for whom services are intended, according to the blog (Barton, 10/4).

Lancet Examines Obama Administration's Global Health Initiative

The Lancet examines the history of the Obama administration’s attempt to “reform the way the country delivers development assistance for health abroad” by establishing the Global Health Initiative (GHI). “Despite unusual bipartisan support in Congress and broad consensus among development practitioners about the goals of reform, it proved surprisingly difficult for the multiple entities involved in U.S. global health assistance to agree on a way forward,” the journal states, noting that GHI leadership and the three core entities of GHI — USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and PEPFAR — announced the closure of the GHI office and an end to the initiative’s current phase on July 3. The Lancet outlines several challenges the initiative faced, including collaboration among the three agencies, leadership, and external factors, such as “the austere budgetary climate.”

Zimbabwe Set To Attain 'Universal' ARV Coverage

“Zimbabwe is set to attain ‘universal’ coverage for AIDS treatment thanks in part to an $84 million disbursement [on Tuesday] by the United Nations-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” the U.N. News Centre reports (10/2). “The new disbursement will cover the cost of life-saving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for an additional 10,000 new patients, bringing the total number of people on treatment with Global Fund support to 203,440 by the end of the year,” the Global Fund announced in a press release. The funding also will support a six-month ARV buffer stock to prevent treatment interruptions for the 480,000 patients on therapy in Zimbabwe, the press release notes (10/2). The Global Fund’s announcement to support additional patients comes together with an announcement from PEPFAR to increase the number of patients supported by its program from 80,000 to 140,000, with a goal of having 160,000 patients on therapy by the end of next year, Zimbabwe’s Herald notes.

Recent Releases In Global Health

Lancet Comment Calls For More Research Into Alcohol Use, HIV According to a Lancet Comment, “alcohol remains conspicuously absent from the larger field of research and programming in HIV and substance use. … Patterns of hazardous alcohol consumption prevail in countries with the most severe HIV epidemics, notably eastern and…

U.S. Expands HIV/AIDS Programs In Caribbean

Representatives from the U.S. and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Tuesday signed an agreement to expand PEPFAR programs to 12 other Caribbean nations during a gathering in Georgetown, Guyana, Agence France-Presse reports (5/11).