In this post in BMJ’s “Yankee Doodling,” Douglas Kamerow, chief scientist at RTI International and an associate editor for the journal, reflects on the possibility of achieving an AIDS-free generation “if somehow we succeeded in getting all HIV positive people in the world identified and under long term treatment.” He writes that while there has been “astonishing progress against AIDS,” “two concerns immediately arise: the magnitude of the work remaining to find and continuously treat all those infected, and the confusion between that treatment (even if it is somehow universally successful) and actual eradication of the disease.” He concludes, “It is a rosy scenario, but even if it came true it still would not spell the end of the HIV story,” because “[w]e have no vaccine, and the virus keeps mutating” (8/14).
US Global Health Policy
In this post in Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog, Deborah Derrick, president of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, examines “the success of U.S. efforts to promote better global health through support for [PEPFAR] and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.” She highlights U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent trip to Africa, writing that Clinton’s “encouraging words” at the Reach Out Mbuya health center in Uganda reinforced U.S. commitment to an AIDS-free generation. She notes both PEPFAR and the Global Fund have supported the center and adds that “through hundreds of similar local programs all over the world, the Global Fund provides treatment to 3.6 million people who are HIV-positive.”
“With Congress adjourned until after Labor Day and not a single funding bill for the federal fiscal year beginning October signed into law before the recess even began, the virtual standstill of legislative action could have a mixed impact on global health funding,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. “It appears that House and Senate leaders have reached a tentative agreement to fund most government programs under a so-called ‘continuing resolution’ that would essentially continue funding for most programs at current levels through March 30, 2013,” the blog writes, adding, “PEPFAR is likely to see at least a modest cut from current funding so that resolution could delay or potentially reduce the overall hit to the program” (Lubinski , 8/10).
“Philippine authorities appealed Thursday for help in getting relief to two million people affected by deadly floods in and around the capital, warning that evacuation centers were overwhelmed,” Agence France-Presse reports (Morella, 8/9). “The capital city, Manila, has received two months’ worth of rain in the past 48 hours, leaving much of the 12-million-person metropolis under water,” Deutsche Welle writes (8/9). BBC News reports that at least 19 people have died and more than 80,000 are in emergency shelters (McGeown, 8/8). According to CNN, “U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas said Tuesday that the United States would provide $100,000 for disaster relief” (8/8).
Advocacy Groups Warn Trans-Pacific Partnership Could Affect Access To Low-Cost Medications, Bloomberg Reports
Bloomberg Businessweek examines how ongoing trade negotiations related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership could affect access to quality low-cost medications, including antiretrovirals, in low- and middle-income countries. “Protecting the patents of drug makers … as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has drawn criticism from groups such as Doctors Without Borders and Public Citizen,” and “[t]he proposed accord has also spurred calls from U.S. lawmakers for greater transparency about the negotiations,” the news service writes. “The multilateral talks, the main accord being pursued by President Barack Obama’s administration, … began with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam [and] may expand after the parties invited Canada and Mexico,” the news service notes.
In this post in USAID’s “Impact” blog, Jessica Hartl, information Officer for the Office of Food for Peace, notes she “recently traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to visit food assistance programs implemented by” the office and asks, “[W]hy in countries so lush and ripe for agriculture were people so food insecure?” She writes, “Food insecurity is a complex issue, and for the DRC it includes key issues such as low productivity, lack of market access and infrastructure, ongoing conflict and poor nutrition practices,” adding, “Despite these challenges, I was amazed at the ability of USAIDâ€™s partners to have as much positive impact as they have had on food security” (8/7).
“U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a visit to South Africa that Pretoria will begin taking more of the responsibilities for its HIV/AIDS program, part of a broader effort to overhaul the U.S. global plan for AIDS relief launched under former President George W. Bush,” Reuters reports. “On Wednesday, Clinton is expected to sign a deal to rework South Africa’s programs under [PEPFAR], allowing the government to better use the funding in its fight against the virus,” the news service writes.
The Devex “Development Newswire” examines how disagreements over how to administer global food aid programs is affecting negotiations over a FY 2013 version of the U.S. farm bill. “The farm bill provides for the U.S. Agency for International Development-administered Food for Peace program, which received around $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2012, as well as the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, funded at around $200 million,” the news service notes, and writes, “At 0.5 percent or 0.6 percent of the nearly trillion-dollar farm bill, global food aid is ‘barely a rounding error,’ said Lucas Koach, policy adviser at Food for the Hungry.” It continues, “If a new five-year farm bill is not passed, shorter interim bills could succeed, or there could be a continuing resolution to renew funding at 2008 levels,” adding, “If none of those options is in place by the last day of September, the farm bill reverts to statutory language from the 1940s” (Brookland, 8/7).
Diagnostics company Cepheid on Monday signed deals with PEPFAR, USAID, UNITAID, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to immediately reduce the price of its Xpert MTB/RIF test kit for its GeneXpert tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic system in 145 countries, Reuters reports. “The agreements will see the test sold for $9.98, down from its current price of $16.86 per test,” the news service writes, adding, “Cepheid said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will make an initial payment of $3.5 million to make the test immediately available at the lower price” (Ail, 8/6).
With incentives to find new antibiotics signed into U.S. law last month, “multiple players are vying for the lead in the [multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB)] drug development niche,” Nature Medicine reports. “The fifth reauthorization of the U.S. Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), signed into law on 9 July, includes a subsection called the Generating Antibiotic Incentives Now (GAIN) Act that aims to spur development of antibiotics for drug-resistant bacteria, including MDR-TB,” the news service writes, noting, “Drug makers that ask for approval of medicines to treat these pathogens will receive priority review, as well as five additional years of market exclusivity and fast-track status.” Currently, MDR-TB treatment “involves a bevy of regular tuberculosis medicines that, in many cases, must be administered for as long as two years or more … [and] don’t always work,” Nature Medicine states, adding, “The hope is that new medicines will shorten treatment times and improve cure rates.” The article discusses several medicines that are in different phases of research (Willyard, 8/6).