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Report Examines International Funding For Neglected Diseases

“International financial support aimed at counteracting the world’s ‘neglected diseases’ increased by nearly a half-billion dollars over the past five years, according to new research released Monday, but changing funding dynamics could already be having a negative impact on the development of cures for diseases that affect a substantial proportion of the world’s poor,” Inter Press Service reports. “While funding for these diseases had begun to pick up, the new Global Funding of Innovation for Neglected Diseases (G-FINDER) report [.pdf] finds that this assistance has decreased again following the international financial crisis,” the news service writes, adding, “More worrying, funding for research into these diseases remains highly dependent on a tiny number of players,” including the U.S. (Biron, 12/3).

Questions Raised Over Cost Of, Funding For Obama Administration’s AIDS Blueprint

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday announced the Obama administration’s “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf), which calls for a combination of prevention strategies including widespread treatment, “male circumcision, condom distribution and stopping transmission from mother to child,” NPR’s “Shots” blog reports. The blog notes the document does not describe the cost of the programs (Knox/Doucleff, 11/29). “[T]he global drive for austerity in developed economies, combined with sharp arguments about U.S. government spending, points to potential difficulties” in allocating funding to HIV/AIDS programs, the Daily Beast writes (Zeitlin, 12/1). U.S. “[f]unding for bilateral AIDS was $5.082 billion in fiscal 2012, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the government is currently operating on a continuing resolution based on that amount as the fiscal 2013 budget continues to be debated,” the Wall Street Journal reports, adding, “Sequestration, should that occur, would mean an [across-the-board discretionary] 8.2 percent cut” (McKay, 11/30).

PBS Blog Interviews Journalist Jon Cohen About Progress Against HIV/AIDS

The PBS NewsHour’s “The Rundown” blog features an interview with journalist Jon Cohen, in which he discusses the possibility of an “AIDS-free generation,” recent reports from UNAIDS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, AIDS funding, HIV vaccine research, and World AIDS Day. “So there’s good news in the sense that the epidemic has stabilized, that new infections are dropping compared to a decade ago. And the more sobering news is there’s a lot of progress that the world collectively agreed should happen by 2015 … and it just doesn’t look like much of it is going to happen,” Cohen said about data in the UNAIDS’ World AIDS Day report: Results, the blog reports (Kane, 11/30).

Opinion Pieces, Editorial Address Global AIDS Response

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday announced the Obama administration’s “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf), and the international community recognized World AIDS Day on December 1. The following opinion pieces and editorial address issues related to the global AIDS response.

GlobalPost Examines HIV/AIDS In Asia, Africa

As part of its series titled “The State of HIV/AIDS,” GlobalPost published two stories examining the epidemic in different regions of the world. In one article, the news service looks at the spread and control of HIV in Asia, writing, “No generalized epidemic has broken out across the region, HIV infection rates have stabilized in many countries, and more and more people are receiving antiretroviral medication.” However, “[t]he disease continues to spread: for every person in Asia that begins antiretroviral treatment, roughly two new adults are infected with HIV. Moreover, funding is too tight — the total of $1.1 billion spent on campaigns in Asia in 2009 was less than one-third of what the U.N. says is needed for universal success,” according to the news service (Carlson, 12/1). In a second article, GlobalPost says in Africa, “statistics tell an upbeat story,” noting that the number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen over the past decade. “But despite all the positive progress, experts warn against complacency. Sub-Saharan Africa still accounted for almost three-quarters of all new HIV infections worldwide last year,” the news service continues (McConnell, 12/3).

IPS Interview Examines Efforts To Prevent Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission

“On World AIDS Day, the fact that the number of children newly infected with HIV continues to decline is welcome news to UNITAID, the international drug purchase facility hosted by the World Health Organization,” Inter Press Service reports, adding, “But UNITAID is also well aware of how much more remains to be done for children already living with the disease.” IPS correspondent Julia Kallas interviews Philippe Douste-Blazy, U.N. under-secretary-general in charge of innovative financing and chair of the UNITAID executive board, “about the progress that has been made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV but also how the international community must continue providing childhood HIV treatments to developing countries.” The news service writes, “‘There was some progress made but there is still a lot to be done by the international community,’ Douste-Blazy told IPS regarding the fight against HIV/AIDS” (12/1).

Childhood HIV Risks Becoming Neglected Disease As Fewer Children Born With HIV, Experts Warn

“The success in reducing the number of children born with HIV is in danger of leaving children who already have the disease with poor access to treatment, experts in HIV and AIDS have warned,” BMJ reports. “Denis Broun, executive director of UNITAID, a not-for-profit organization that purchases drugs for the treatment of HIV and AIDS and other diseases, has welcomed news that the number of new infections in children is falling,” the journal writes, adding, “But he said that because fewer children are born with the virus, drug companies would no longer have an incentive to manufacture treatments and that childhood HIV might become a neglected disease.”

IPS Examines PEPFAR Guidance On Family Planning In Light Of New AIDS Blueprint

Noting the U.S. government on Thursday “unveiled a major new strategy for pushing towards achieving an ‘AIDS-free generation,'” Inter Press Service writes, “The far-reaching new blueprint for what’s known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is being widely lauded, yet little attention has been given to a document, published in October, that stipulates how new PEPFAR funding can be used.” The news service notes, “[a]ccording to that guidance, ‘PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities.'” “The language in the guidance was put there to make clear what exactly (PEPFAR) could and couldn’t pay for — that’s problematic,’ Mary Beth Hastings with the Center for Health and Gender Equity, a Washington advocacy group, told IPS,” the news service writes. An unnamed spokesperson from PEPFAR “told IPS … that ‘there are other entities, particularly USAID, that meet that need [for family planning]. We’re very interested in integrating our services,'” the news service writes (Biron, 11/29).

More Widespread HIV Treatment Helped South Africa Increase Life Expectancy, Researchers Say

With the average life expectancy for South Africans at 60 years old, the country “has achieved a ‘stunning’ increase in life expectancy in the last three years due to a government push to roll out antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to people with HIV/AIDS,” according to a study (.pdf) published in the Lancet on Thursday, Reuters reports. Nearly two million of the six million people in the country living with HIV/AIDS are on antiretroviral treatment, compared with only 912,000 in 2009 when the life expectancy was 56.5 years, the news agency notes, adding that the country’s treatment program is the largest in the world.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.