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OPINION: U.S. Leadership 'Essential' For Success In HIV/AIDS Response

Jonathan Klein, board chair of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and co-founder and CEO of Getty Images, writes in a guest post on Forbes, “The U.S. government has long been the world’s most stalwart Global Fund supporter, and U.S. leadership continues to be the most effective tool in leveraging additional resources for the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, particularly at a time when budgets are universally tight.” He notes that “[f]or every $1 invested by U.S. taxpayers, the Global Fund leverages at least $2 more from international donors. And that money translates directly into lifesaving prevention and treatment.” Klein says, “Continued U.S. leadership is essential to maintain these gains and reach our health goals. … With sustained strong support, policymakers in Washington can continue to be responsible … for the uptick in people living healthy, productive lives.” Noting that U.S. foreign aid accounts for less than one percent of the federal budget, he concludes, “But it reaps enormous rewards in generating global good will, boosting national security, saving lives and creating a safer, more stable world for all of us” (7/23).

Secretary Clinton Reaffirms U.S. Commitment To 'AIDS-Free Generation,' Pledges More Than $150M For Global Efforts

In a speech delivered at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “underscored the United States’ commitment to achieving an ‘AIDS-free generation’ and announced more than $150 million in additional funding,” Politico reports (Norman, 7/23). “‘I’ve heard a few voices from people raising questions about America’s commitment,’ she said, adding, ‘We will not back off. We will not back down,'” according to The Hill’s “Healthwatch” (Viebeck, 7/23). Of the $150 million pledged, “$80 million will be dedicated towards preventing mother-to-child transmission abroad, with the goal of eliminating it by the year 2015”; “[a]nother $40 million is allotted for voluntary male circumcision in Africa to decrease risk of transmission of the virus”; “an additional $15 million [will] fund research on interventions”; “$20 million [is] to bolster country-led efforts to expand HIV-related services”; and “$2 million [will go] towards civil society groups to reach key populations affected by HIV,” ABC News writes (Duwell, 7/23). “Clinton said she had commissioned [U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby] to produce a blueprint for the way ahead,” the Guardian notes (Boseley, 7/23). “Goosby’s deadline is the upcoming World AIDS Day, Dec. 1,” Inter Press Service adds (Biron, 7/23).

Examining Challenges Facing Global Fund During Its Reform

Optimism surrounding the science of HIV treatment and prevention “is tempered by less auspicious trends, particularly shrinking budgets for global health in the U.S. and around the world,” Victoria Fan, Amanda Glassman, and Rachel Silverman of the Center for Global Development (CGD) write in the center’s “Global Health Policy” blog. “In this increasingly austere budget climate, generating ‘value for money’ (VFM) is a top concern for global health funding agencies and their donors, who want the biggest bang for their buck in terms of lives saved and diseases controlled,” they write, noting that a CGD-convened working group has produced a draft background paper (.pdf) on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The paper identifies “priority challenges” for the fund, which the authors discuss. They invite readers to comment on the consultation paper on the blog or by email (7/18).

Donor Nation Funding For HIV Remains At 2008 Levels, Kaiser Family Foundation/UNAIDS Analysis Says

A funding analysis released on Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and UNAIDS found that “[f]unding to fight HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries has remained flat at $7.6 billion,” Politico Pro reports (7/18). “Overall donor government support for AIDS has been flat since 2008, which marked the end of rapid increases in donor disbursements of more than six-fold over the 2002 to 2008 period,” according to a KFF/UNAIDS press release (7/18). The report examines donor government funding to recipient countries, as well as contributions to multilateral organizations such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria and UNITAID, according to the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog.

Gains In Child Health, Education Threatened By Increase In Malnutrition, Save The Children Report Says

“More children survived past their fifth birthday and attended school at the end of the 2000s than a decade before, but a rise in acute malnutrition could undermine these unprecedented gains,” according to a report released Thursday by Save the Children, AlertNet reports. Between 2005 and 2010, “1.5 million more children suffered from wasting or acute weight loss … than in the first half of the 2000s,” the news agency reports, adding, “This happened as high, volatile food prices and increasingly extreme weather made food less affordable for many poor families, tipping some into crisis” (Nguyen, 7/19). According to the report, Japan is the best place for children, and Somalia “is ranked last among the nations considered following a food crisis last year which killed tens of thousands of children,” the Independent notes. “According to Save The Children, the overall proportion of acutely malnourished children grew by 1.2 percent during the previous decade,” the newspaper writes (Diaz, 7/19).

American Leadership On HIV/AIDS Making A Difference In U.S. And Abroad

“As the two people who worked as physicians in the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic before the miracle of antiretroviral drug (ARV) therapy, and who now have the honor of leading the domestic and global HIV/AIDS programs for the Obama administration, we look back in awe of the American leadership that has transformed the epidemic in the 22 years since the International AIDS Conference was last held on U.S. soil,” Grant Colfax, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby, write in this Washington Blade opinion piece. “As we remember the lives lost to this disease and commit to the vision of an AIDS-free generation, it’s worth reflecting on how U.S. leadership and U.S. investments to combat HIV/AIDS domestically and internationally are saving lives and turning the tide against the disease,” they continue.

UNAIDS Releases Report Highlighting Gains, Gaps In Global HIV/AIDS Response

Ahead of the XIX International AIDS Conference next week, UNAIDS on Wednesday launched a new report, titled “Together we will end AIDS” (.pdf), “that shows that a record eight million people are now receiving antiretroviral therapy [ARVs], and that domestic funding for HIV has exceeded global investments,” the U.N. News Centre reports (7/18). “In all low- and middle-income countries, the availability of antiretroviral drugs grew by more than 20 percent in just one year, compared to the latest figure of 6.6 million people covered in 2010, said the report,” Agence France-Presse writes (Sheridan, 7/19). “At that rate, the world should meet a U.N. goal of having 15 million people [in low- and middle-income countries] on treatment by 2015, the report found,” the Associated Press adds (Neergaard, 7/18). “Fewer people infected with HIV globally are dying as more of them get access to” ARVs, “particularly in sub-Saharan Africa,” Reuters notes (Beasley/Miles, 7/18). AIDS-related deaths “dropped 5.6 percent to 1.7 million in 2011 from the previous year,” Bloomberg writes, adding that deaths “peaked in 2005 and 2006 at 2.3 million and have been going down since then, according to the report” (Pettypiec/Langreth, 7/18).

Blog Highlights Factors Potentially Affecting U.S. Support For Global AIDS Response In 2013

In this post in the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) “Global Health Policy” blog, Jenny Ottenhoff, policy outreach associate at the center, says “four big issues will impact U.S. support for the global response to the [AIDS] epidemic over the coming year.” According to Ottenhoff, these issues include the FY 2013 budget; the upcoming presidential election; “looming, automatic, across-the-board spending cuts that will be triggered under sequestration in January 2013”; and the potential reauthorization of PEPFAR, which will be decided in 2013. “These storm clouds over AIDS funding could turn out to have a silver lining if austerity creates pressures to improve the global response to AIDS in ways that make it more effective and efficient,” she writes (7/18).

Funding Must Support Optimism Surrounding HIV Prevention, Treatment

The goal of an “AIDS-free generation” “requires an ambitious implementation-science agenda that improves efficiency and effectiveness and incorporates strategies for overcoming the stigma and discrimination that continue to limit the uptake and utilization of [treatment, prevention and care] services,” AIDS 2012 Co-Chair Diane Havlir of the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine and Chris Beyrer of the Johns Hopkins Center for AIDS Research write in a New England Journal of Medicine opinion piece. They note that “[r]esearch efforts on HIV vaccines will also probably be key, and the field has been reinvigorated” by recent study results. “A combination approach to prevention that includes HIV treatment can generate tremendous gains in the short term by curtailing new HIV infections, but ending the AIDS epidemic will probably require a vaccine, a cure, or both,” they write.

Drug Treatments, Scientific Advances Fuel Hope For HIV Control As AIDS 2012 Conference Draws Near

“A cure for AIDS remains a distant prospect but a host of drug treatments and other advances have fueled fresh hope that new [HIV] infections may someday be halted for good,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Strategies for ending the 30-year AIDS epidemic through advances in treatment, testing and prevention are high on the agenda of” the XIX International AIDS Conference, “when it returns to the United States next week after two decades,” according to the news agency (Sheridan, 7/14). “Thanks to drugs that can control the virus for decades, AIDS is no longer a death sentence,” Reuters writes in an article examining AIDS vaccine research. “New infections have fallen by 21 percent since the peak of the pandemic in 1997 and advances in prevention — through voluntary circumcision programs, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and early treatment — promise to cut that rate even more,” the news service states (Steenhuysen, 7/15).