“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.”
US Global Health Policy
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.
“U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will address the opening plenary session at the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), on Monday, July 23, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the Washington Convention Center, Session Room 1,” a U.S. Department of State press notice reports. “Secretary Clinton’s remarks will be streamed live at http://www.kff.org/aids2012,”; according to the notice, which goes on to list a number of additional State Department officials who will participate in the conference (7/17).
The PATH Blog reports on the organization’s efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) “to reduce transmission of HIV, deliver integrated care and services for people affected by HIV/AIDS, and build up the country’s health system to expand and improve services.” The blog highlights a project known as ProVIC, which is funded by PEPFAR and “has reached more than a million people in the DRC with messages about preventing HIV.” The project focuses on data collection efforts for monitoring and evaluation, the blog notes (Donnelly, 7/17).
In a health care exclusive feature, Devex examines the emerging field of mHealth, “the practice of using mobile devices for medicine and public health practices.” According to the article, “[t]echnology is getting cheaper” and “the development of low-cost or free open-source software is spreading,” which is why mHealth proponents say “mobile devices are ideal for improving health care consultations, data delivery and outcomes.” Devex highlights several mHealth programs and discusses USAID’s investments in the field. The article also examines “two major challenges” facing organizations working in mHealth: it is an interdisciplinary field, with little overlap in how computer scientists and public health officials communicate, and it is an emerging practice that is changing rapidly and “does not have a particularly rich history for researchers to mine for best practices” (Schiff, 7/16).
As part of its “AIDS Turning Point” series, GlobalPost examines how the United States and its African partners are designing clinical trials at four African sites to test whether a combination of prevention methods and strategies — “notably the vaccine-like preventative effect on transmission when someone starts taking AIDS drugs, as well as the life-long protection afforded to many due to male circumcision” — could “put them on the road to a Holy Grail: the numbers of HIV infections tumbling down.”
The recent announcement “that the Administration’s signature Global Health Initiative (GHI) was being replaced by a new Office of Global Health Diplomacy at State was greeted with withering criticism from many in the global health community,” PSI CEO Karl Hofmann writes in this post in the organization’s “Healthy Lives” blog. But “this change matters less than one might first think,” he continues, writing, “The aim to achieve greater integration of Washington agencies and their individual health appropriations was never as likely nor frankly important as the aim to achieve more integrated health programming at country level.” Hofmann concludes, “Putting more emphasis on making global health integration a programmatic reality at the country level is probably the right way for the Administration to bring GHI principles to life” (7/16).