Al Jazeera examines HIV among women in India’s Manipur state, particularly in the district of Churachandpur, where local non-governmental organizations “say more than one-quarter of the women use some kind of drugs and suffer from HIV; many, due to a lack of financial opportunities, will end up turning to” sex work to obtain money to buy drugs, the news agency writes. There are no long-term treatment facilities for people who use drugs or those living with HIV in the area, and there are no official statistics on how many women are living with HIV and using drugs, Al Jazeera reports. “The United Nations says these women can no longer be ignored,” the news agency notes. Charles Gilks of UNAIDS India said the number of affected women must be determined and then organizations need to establish “interventions which those women can easily and reliably reach,” Al Jazeera reports (Suri, 11/30).
U.N. Progress Report On AIDS Stresses Advances In Treatment, Prevention, Warns About Declining Funding
“Global progress in both preventing and treating HIV emphasizes the benefits of sustaining investment in HIV/AIDS over the longer term,” according to a new report from the WHO, UNICEF and UNAIDS, which also “indicates that increased access to HIV services resulted in a 15 percent reduction of new infections over the past decade and a 22 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths in the last five years,” a WHO press release reports (11/30). The report, titled “Progress report 2011: Global HIV/AIDS response,” notes that “[a]s capacity at all levels increases, programs are becoming more effective and efficient,” but “financial pressures on both domestic and foreign assistance budgets are threatening the impressive progress to date. Recent data indicating that HIV funding is declining is a deeply troubling trend that must be reversed for the international community to meet its commitments on HIV” (11/30).
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).
A U.N. expert on Monday “urged Vietnam … to close down its compulsory rehabilitation centers for sex workers and drug users, stressing that detention and forced treatment violate their right to health and perpetuate stigmatization and discrimination of those groups in the society,” the U.N. News Centre reports (12/5). “‘It’s essential to ensure that the considerable resources now invested in these centers are used instead to expand alternative treatments for injecting drug users,’ said” U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health Anand Grover, 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).
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).
“A report on the HIV epidemic in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) shows that while the overall HIV prevalence in the region is still low, the rise in new infections since 2001 has put the MENA region among the top two regions in the world with the fastest growing HIV epidemic,” UNAIDS reports (12/4). The regional report was released Monday in Cairo, Egypt, under the auspices of the League of Arab States, according to the Egypt Independent (Helmy, 12/6). “The report outlines many recommendations on how to strengthen the AIDS response in the MENA region,” according to UNAIDS, including “review of laws and policies that hinder access to HIV prevention and treatments services, to invest smartly using an evidence-informed and human rights based approach, and the importance of strong political leadership” (12/4).
Inter Press Service features excerpts from an interview with Jose Graziano da Silva, former Brazilian minister of food security, “who takes over as the new director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Jan. 1.” Graziano da Silva “believes it is possible to eradicate hunger in the world” and “says that what is needed is an increase in political commitment, the mobilization of even modest resources, and the adoption of absolute rather than relative targets,” according to IPS (Frayssinet, 12/8).
Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and under-secretary-general of the U.N., answers questions about his work from Forbes contributor Rahim Kanani in this interview excerpt. Osotimehin “discussed current trends in population growth, innovative approaches to tackling HIV/AIDS, leadership lessons in public health, challenges to safeguarding maternal health while encouraging family planning, and much more,” according to Forbes (12/8).
“The United Nations said on Friday it was seeking $268 million for aid efforts in Zimbabwe next year, with half the money to be used to buy food for more than 1.4 million people facing shortages” in 2012, Reuters reports. “The humanitarian situation in the country has continued to improve over the past couple of years. However, challenges still exist such as food insecurity” and lack of access to safe water, which has led to cholera and typhoid outbreaks, Alain Noudehou, country head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said, the news service notes (12/9).