“Science is at the center of efforts to design and implement more effective preventative and care programs for HIV/AIDS set out in a blueprint published by a U.S. government initiative that fights the disease,” SciDev.Net reports, referencing the PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation that was released November 29. “Using science to evaluate initiatives, develop new interventions and find ways to keep people in treatment are some of the suggestions in the report,” the news service writes. “The blueprint is an attempt to take this science and translate it into policy and programs in a much more aggressive way,” David Haroz, special assistant to the principal deputy U.S. global AIDS coordinator and a co-author of the report, said, according to SciDev.Net. The news service discusses the contents of the blueprint and continues, “All actors, from regional governments to international organizations, such as the World Bank and the Global Fund [to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria], need to apply its principles if it was to have the necessary impact, [Haroz] adds” (Piotrowski, 12/7).
US Global Health Policy
“After three decades of global emergency responses and a series of scientific breakthroughs in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is now tempting to ask if we are marching towards the end of AIDS,” an editorial in the Lancet states. Noting the November 29 release of the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-Free Generation, the Lancet writes, “The first and foremost signal the report has sent is that the U.S. commitment to the global AIDS response will continue to be ‘strong, comprehensive and driven by science,'” and the report “calls on partner countries, civil society, donors, foundations, multilateral institutions, and people living with HIV to step up together and make concrete commitments.” The editorial continues, “The vision of ‘an AIDS-free generation’ in the blueprint relies heavily on scientific and technological feasibility … However, eradicating a disease goes far beyond scientific advances, which will go unrealized without strong social support and public health actions as well as substantial and sustainable investments.”
U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday announced the new top Democrats on House committees, Bloomberg reports (Rowley, 12/5). “Two key global health leaders are among the picks … [for] the Democratic Ranking Members for 113th Congress House Committees,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog writes. “Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) will succeed Howard Berman (D-Calif.) as the top Democrat of the House Foreign Affairs Committee which has programmatic jurisdiction over all global health programs,” the blog notes, adding, “Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) will assume the top Democratic post on the all-important House Appropriations Committee — the committee charged with making annual funding decisions for all federal discretionary programs, including funding for [PEPFAR], global [tuberculosis (TB)] and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria” (Lubinski, 12/5).
Through travel to Africa and “[a]s chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, we’ve seen firsthand the enormous toll of HIV/AIDS on families, communities and economies,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) write in the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog. “On December 1st, we marked World AIDS Day by honoring the lives lost to the scourge of AIDS and by recommitting ourselves to building an AIDS-free generation and ending this pandemic once and for all,” they write, adding, “Although we come from different political parties, we stand together in our belief that the United States should remain a global leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
Last week, the U.S. government announced up to $7.5 million in grants over the next two years to fund “implementation science projects exploring how to achieve the goal of eliminating new pediatric HIV infections while keeping mothers alive,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Barton, 12/5). According to a State Department press release, “Implementation science is critical to ensure that evidence-based and scalable interventions address current barriers to effective PMTCT programs. The results from successful operational and implementation science research are essential to improved program and health system performance” (11/28).
Devex’s “Pennsylvania Ave.” blog reports on reaction from the international development community to the release last week of the “President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf). “In general, aid groups welcomed the release of the blueprint and urged other donors to follow the United States’ lead,” the news service writes, adding, “There are, however, some groups that were disappointed with the lack of concrete funding commitments, among other details.” Devex provides reaction from DAI, Management Sciences for Health, and World Vision and quotes representatives of Save the Children, Abt Associates, and UNAIDS (Mungcal/Valdez, 12/4).
Noting the recent release of the “PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf), Kim Lufkin, communications officer at the Global Health Technologies Coalition (GHTC), writes in the organization’s “Breakthroughs” blog, “It’s commendable that the U.S. government is continuing its legacy as a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as this blueprint indicates. It’s also encouraging that the blueprint focuses on developing new scientific breakthroughs in the fight against the disease.” She continues, “As the Obama administration enters its second term in the new year, leaders across the administration must ensure that the priorities outlined in this blueprint are fulfilled, particularly the U.S. commitment to research and new HIV/AIDS tools. We cannot reach an AIDS-free generation otherwise” (12/3).
“This week, as we gathered in the White House with key scientists, policymakers, and community stakeholders to commemorate World AIDS Day, I was so proud to help highlight the progress we’ve made in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the President, writes in the AIDS.gov blog. Jarrett discusses progress made against the disease in 2012, notes the release of the “PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation” (.pdf), and provides a link to a Twitter Q+A with Jarrett and Gayle Smith, senior director for development and democracy (12/3).
U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Wanda Nesbitt writes in the State Department’s “DipNote” blog, “Here in Namibia, the United States, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), is working closely with the people and Government of Namibia to prevent new HIV infections, provide lifesaving HIV treatment to those who need it, and help put an end to AIDS in the country.” She discusses the recently released Blueprint for an AIDS-free Generation (.pdf), progress in Namibia’s AIDS response, and the transition period in which Namibia will take full responsibility for its HIV program. “We are proud to work with the government and people of Namibia to do our part toward achieving the goal of creating an AIDS-free generation. By investing smarter and working together, we will win this fight,” she writes (12/3).
On Monday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah “announced the launch of the agency’s first-ever policy and program guidance [.pdf] on Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis during an event in Washington, D.C.,” according to an USAID press release. “Chronic poverty and recurring shocks drive the same communities into crisis year after year, undermining development gains,” the press release states, adding, “In response to this clear need, and together with our international development partners, USAID has committed, through this policy and program guidance, to better coordinate its development and humanitarian approaches to effectively build resilience in targeted areas of recurrent crisis.” The agency “intends for these efforts to collectively contribute to reduced humanitarian need” over the long-term, according to the press release (12/3).