The Guardian has analyzed “hundreds of food aid contracts awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2010-11 to show where the money goes,” the newspaper reports. “Two-thirds of food for the billion-dollar U.S. food aid program last year was bought from just three U.S.-based multinationals,” ADM, Cargill, and Bunge, the newspaper notes, adding that “these three agribusinesses sold the U.S. government 1.2 million tons of food, or almost 70 percent of the total bought” (Provost/Lawrence, 7/18). In a separate article, the Guardian writes, “Food aid has also become a valuable business for a variety of smaller food companies,” as well as shipping firms and non-governmental organizations (Provost, 7/19). In an interactive feature, the Guardian “[e]xplore[s] which companies sold food aid products to the government last year, what was bought, and where it was sent” (Provost/Hughes, 7/20). And another article describes how the newspaper analyzed the data (Hughes, 7/19).
US Global Health Policy
“The World Bank and U.S. government on Thursday each announced major new initiatives aimed at expanding knowledge on the experience of women around the world, while acknowledging that much remains to be done on filling the global ‘data gap’ on women,” Inter Press Service reports. At an event at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of Gallup, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “announced the creation of a new U.S. government initiative called Data 2X, which will aim [to improve] international capacity on the production and analysis of data, including training in gender-sensitive data-gathering techniques and filling gaps in gender-sensitive data,” IPS writes. World Bank President Jim Kim “also announced a major new initiative on the subject, the World Bank’s Gender Data Portal, a clearinghouse of the bank’s decades’ worth of gender-related statistics and analysis,” the news service notes (Biron, 7/19).
“[D]isappointingly, one group that will be absent [from the XIX International AIDS Conference next week] due to U.S. travel restrictions is sex workers,” a Lancet editorial states. “Sex workers have been extremely neglected as a population in the global response to HIV/AIDS, despite their substantially heightened risk of HIV infection and propensity to transmit new infections into general populations,” the editorial continues, adding, “Yet global funding allocations have been inadequate or restricted policies have been applied, such as the U.S. anti-prostitution pledge, which has greatly limited research and the response to HIV in sex workers. Furthermore, the conflation of sex work with human trafficking, and the disregard of sex work as work, has meant that sex workers’ rights have not been properly recognized.”
“President Barack Obama has a standing invitation to speak at the [XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., next week], and he likely would be welcomed with loud cheers given his progressive HIV/AIDS policies,” journalist Jon Cohen writes in a Slate opinion piece. “But Obama apparently can’t carve out the time, which both runs the risk of angering a volatile community and squandering a historic opportunity,” he continues. Though some “U.S. government officials who have made presentations at the meeting … have weathered humiliating greetings, … Obama would face none of this hostility,” Cohen writes, noting that the U.S. “today spends more money on HIV/AIDS research than all countries combined and also is the single most generous donor to the global effort to combat the disease.”
Sixty organizations and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Thursday released a “Call for a U.S. Government AIDS-Free Generation Strategic Plan” (.pdf) that “asks the Obama administration to put Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in charge of a task force to complete a [five-year] strategy in time to be announced by the next World AIDS Day — Dec. 1, 2012,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports (Barton, 7/19). The letter states, “A U.S. government AIDSâ€Free Generation Strategic Plan would take into full account recent developments in programmatic experience, the Global Fund reform process, technological breakthroughs and new science, therefore it would supplant prior strategies. This effort is envisioned to model the successful outcome and impact of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States,” and lists elements the plan would include (7/19).
“Urban America continues to suffer high rates of HIV despite successes of antiretroviral treatment that can suppress the virus, decrease transmission, prevent progression to AIDS, and lower death rates,” Gregory Pappas, senior deputy director of the Washington, D.C., Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA), writes in a Washington Blade opinion piece. “The global U.S. response known as the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) succeeded by enhancing funding, coordinating government efforts and working across jurisdictions,” he states, adding, “A domestic PEPFAR would emphasize enhanced spending, promote regional data, and plan and coordinate services regionally.”
Noting that Washington, D.C., has an adult HIV prevalence rate higher than some southern African countries that receive PEPFAR funding, GlobalPost writes that the International AIDS Conference, to be held in the U.S. for the first time in 22 years starting Sunday, has highlighted “that America is nowhere close to an AIDS-free generation at home.” The news service continues, “Attendees hope AIDS 2012 will help set the agenda, both globally and domestically, as leaders, activists, and advocates from around the world discuss the achievements made and the goals ahead.” GlobalPost notes that it co-produced a segment examining the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic with PBS NewsHour that aired on Thursday (Judem, 7/19).
The Washington Blade compares U.S. HIV/AIDS efforts under the administrations of former President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. According to the news service, “Some praise the Obama administration for laying out a comprehensive plan and bumping up domestic funding to confront the epidemic, while others yearn for the Bush days because of the global initiatives the Republican president started.” The article goes on to highlight major accomplishments and criticisms of each administration (Johnson, 7/19).
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).
“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.