Speaking at the ONE campaign and (RED)’s “Beginning of the End of AIDS” event at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., to mark World AIDS Day on Thursday, “President Obama … announced a deepened U.S. commitment to fighting the pandemic, declaring ‘make no mistake, we are going to win this fight,'” ABC News reports (Bruce, 12/1). Obama said his administration is “setting a goal of providing antiretroviral [ARV] drugs to more than 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women over the next two years” to help prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, and “setting a new target of helping six million people get [ARV] treatment by the end of 2013,” two million more people than the original goal, according to the speech transcript (12/1). A White House fact sheet adds PEPFAR will support more than 4.7 million voluntary medical male circumcisions in Eastern and Southern Africa and the U.S. will distribute more than one billion condoms worldwide over the next two years. The fact sheet notes PEPFAR’s “continued focus on lowering costs and finding efficiencies will allow us to achieve these ambitious targets with existing resources” (12/1).
Programs, Funding & Financing
A number of government leaders made statements on Thursday in recognition of World AIDS Day. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a press statement said, “We have come a long way in the fight against AIDS, but there is still a long road ahead to realize our ambitious goals. If we continue to work together and coordinate a global effort guided by science, we may one day live in an AIDS-free generation” (12/1). In a post on the White House Blog, Gayle Smith, special assistant to the President, and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby write, “As President Obama made clear, the fight against global AIDS is a shared responsibility, not one the U.S. can meet alone. â€¦ As we move forward, we will work with a growing number of partners as the global community joins the U.S. in a heightened focus on this fight” (12/1).
The Associated Press examines the potential impact on HIV/AIDS funding of a proposed bill in Nigeria that would outlaw gay marriage; assisting a gay couple in marriage; “‘public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly'”; or “organizing, operating or supporting gay clubs, organizations and meetings.” According to the news agency, “Statements from the U.S. and U.K. say both governments are watching the bill closely, but declined to comment further on how it may affect their outreach.” Before becoming law, the bill must pass Nigeria’s House of Representatives and be signed by President Jonathan, the AP notes (Ibukun, 12/4).
“With donor support flagging around the world, U.S. leadership is crucial. Congress must fully fund its global health programs, especially the Global Fund” to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Joyce Kamwana, a Global Fund “HERE I AM” campaign ambassador, writes in The Hill’s “Congress Blog.” She adds, “Reducing support for global health would put millions of people at risk” and “would deal a devastating blow to the global fight against AIDS, which has reached a critical point.”
“[W]ith studies suggesting that 215 million women around the world want — but cannot get — effective contraception, making sure birth control methods are available to those who want them could be one of the cheapest, fastest and most effective ways of addressing climate change, experts said at the U.N. climate conference in Durban” this week, AlertNet reports. “But getting U.N. climate negotiators to even mention the controversial issue is nearly as difficult as getting them to agree on a long-delayed new global climate treaty,” the news agency adds.
“South Korea said on Monday that it would send 6.5 billion won, or $5.7 million, in aid to North Korea through UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency,” the New York Times reports. South Korea last year suspended aid to North Korea through UNICEF and the WHO, but Seoul last month resumed aid through the WHO, the newspaper notes (Choe, 12/5). “Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday it will donate about $5.7 million to UNICEF programs to send medicines and vaccines and help malnourished North Korean children,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes (12/5).
“Only a binding global accord on cutting greenhouse gases will spare Africa, the world’s poorest continent, more devastating floods, droughts and famine, a senior African climate change official said on Tuesday” at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, Reuters reports. “The talks, bringing together nearly 200 nations, have repeatedly struggled to get a new deal to update the Kyoto Protocol, whose crucial clause on enforcing targets on carbon cuts expires at the end of next year,” the news service writes. Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, chair of the Africa Group, “said legal force was the only way to make polluters take the necessary action and states who failed to deliver should in effect be ‘named and shamed,'” according to the news service (Lewis, 12/7).
“A group that tracks funding for neglected diseases released its fourth annual report Wednesday, showing for the first time since 2007 a decrease in government and public spending in global health research and development,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Mazzotta, 12/7). The Global Funding of Innovation for Neglected Diseases (G-FINDER) survey report, conducted by Policy Cures and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that “[p]ublic funding from the world’s richest nations for research and development (R&D) of new neglected disease products fell by US$125 million (down six percent) in 2010,” a Policy Cures press release (.pdf) states (12/7).
UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that donors looking to fund the fight against AIDS “could raise funds through taxes,” according to the news agency. Speaking on the sidelines of the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sidibe said, “If we have a global financial transaction tax, say of 0.5 percent, we will have $226 billion. Ten percent of that resource is enough for financing the fight against HIV/AIDS, stopping the epidemic, because we can reduce by 96 percent the number of new infections by putting people early on treatment. We can have taxation on cigarettes and alcohol. We can find different ways to mobilize new resources,” according to Reuters (Maasho, 12/7).
After “President Obama threw the full weight of the U.S. government behind a vision” to end the AIDS epidemic in a World AIDS Day speech, “[n]ow the question is: How will we achieve this goal? What are the priority actions to take today, tomorrow, and years from now?” Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “First and foremost, the resource commitments need to match the strength of the scientific data,” he says, adding, “It is precisely at this moment, when the potential dividends are greatest, that the world’s modest AIDS investments should be sustained.”