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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Anti-Gay Laws Will Facilitate HIV Spread Worldwide, AIDS Expert Says

The Independent: Anti-gay laws will help global spread of HIV, claims global AIDS expert
“Anti-gay laws in Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, and other countries … will have ‘consequences’ for the continued spread of HIV around the world, potentially dashing hopes of eradicating the virus in the early 21st century, the head of the International AIDS Society has warned…” (Cooper, 7/24).

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News Reports Highlight Scientific Findings Presented At AIDS 2014

News outlets highlight several of the scientific findings presented this week at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

Boston.com: Making Strides: Highlights of Research Unveiled at AIDS Conference
“Coinciding with the 2014 International AIDS Conference, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a special theme issue this month that highlights the major research and studies presented…” (Tietjen, 7/24).

Herald Sun: Drug hope on reducing HIV levels hidden in cells, hears Melbourne AIDS Conference
“Australian scientists have developed a drug that not only shows promise in reducing HIV levels hidden in cells, but can lessen the impact the virus has on the immune system…” (Van Den Berg/O’Connell, 7/23).

The Guardian: HIV discovery reveals virus hidden in immune system cells
“Danish researchers have used an anti-cancer medicine to activate HIV hidden in the cells of patients taking anti-HIV drugs, exposing the virus to the immune system and making it susceptible to attack…” (Davey, 7/22).

Reuters: Celgene drug can drive HIV out of hiding: study
“An anti-cancer drug made by the U.S. biotech firm Celgene can re-activate hidden HIV in patients so that it can be detected, bringing researchers closer to being able to treat it, Danish scientists said on Tuesday…” (Kelland, 7/22).

Associated Press: HIV pills show more promise to prevent infection
“There is more good news about HIV treatment pills used to prevent infection in people at high risk of getting the AIDS virus: Follow-up from a landmark study that proved the drug works now shows that it does not encourage risky sex and is effective even if people skip some doses…” (7/22).

Bloomberg News: Shorter Treatment for Tuberculosis Works in HIV Patients
“A three-drug combo that includes an experimental treatment from the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development may cure tuberculosis more quickly than current regimens, a study found, offering new hope to patients with HIV…” (French, 7/22).

Los Angeles Times: More bad news in fight against persistent HIV reservoirs
“…On Monday, a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that two HIV patients who were given ‘new’ immune systems in the form of bone marrow transplants suffered renewed HIV infection after initially testing negative for the disease…” (Morin, 7/21).

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HIV Prevalence Low In China, But Stigma, Lack Of Education Challenge Prevention Efforts

News outlets report on the challenges around HIV efforts in China.

Australia Broadcasting Corporation: Making progress, but a long way to go: battling stigma against HIV AIDS in China
“…China has made progress in prevention and education when it comes to HIV, but a strong undercurrent of stigma and discrimination exists beneath the veneer of Tianjin’s [(a coastal city next to Beijing)] modernity…” (Tay, 7/25).

VOA News: Health Advocates Urge Better Education to Curb China’s AIDS Infections
“China has a relatively low prevalence of HIV-positive citizens, with fewer than point-one (0.1) percent of adults infected. But the number of AIDS cases continues to rise, and health advocates blame a lack of education and prevention…” (Van Sant, 7/24).

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Though Poverty Declining Worldwide, More Than 2.2B People 'Poor Or Near-Poor,' U.N. Reports

Agence France-Presse: More than 2.2 billion people ‘poor or near-poor': U.N.
“More than 2.2 billion people are ‘poor or near-poor’, with financial crises, natural disasters, soaring food prices, and violent conflicts threatening to exacerbate the problem, a United Nations report said Thursday…” (7/24).

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U.N. Relief Agencies Defy Syrian Blockade, Send Aid Supplies Across Turkish Border

New York Times: Defying Syria, United Nations Sends in Trucks Carrying Aid
“Empowered by the Security Council to defy what United Nations officials have called an arbitrary aid blockade imposed by the warring parties in Syria, United Nations relief agencies for the first time sent a convoy of trucks carrying food, water purification tablets, and other relief supplies across the Turkish border on Thursday into rebel-held areas of Syria…” (Sengupta, 7/24).

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Afghanistan Risks Losing Gains In Health Care If Donors Cut Funding, MSF Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Afghanistan risks losing health gains made in the last decade — MSF
“Afghanistan risks losing even the basic health gains it has made over the past decade if it becomes a ‘forgotten crisis’ when international troops leave the country at the end of the year, MSF’s [(Médecins Sans Frontières)] Afghanistan chief said…” (Whiting, 7/24).

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Chagas Disease Gains Traction Among Immigrants In U.S.

The Atlantic: Northern Virginia: ‘Ground Zero’ for Kissing Bug Disease
“…The number of people with Chagas disease just outside the nation’s capital is small — about two dozen cases, according to interviews with local physicians — but doctors and experts say they wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers were higher. Doctors, unfamiliar with the disease, are not routinely screening for it, and many patients tend to be undocumented immigrants without health insurance. While Chagas doesn’t pose a risk to the general population in the U.S., patient advocates … believe the disease continues to be ignored because of its connections to poverty and immigration…” (Hernández, 7/24).

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Some Religious Leaders Express Concern Over Ugandan Sex Education Campaign

IRIN: Uganda teen pregnancies’ plan under fire
“A new Ugandan sex education campaign to reduce teen pregnancy, maternal mortality among young women and girls, and the cost of post-abortion medical care, is generating heated debate. … Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Ministry and religious leaders have opposed the campaign on the grounds that it promotes sexual immorality and promiscuity among youths…” (7/24).

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FGM Procedures Done In Secret In Kenya

The Guardian: Kenyan girls taken to remote regions to undergo FGM in secret
“Parents are taking their daughters to remote regions of Kenya to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) in secret, according to the head of the country’s new FGM prosecution unit…” (Topping, 7/24).

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Malaria Is Leading Killer In War-Torn CAR, MSF Says

Reuters: Malaria is the leading killer in Central African Republic: aid group
“As a recent ceasefire deal boosts prospects for peace in Central African Republic, a key medical aid group warned on Thursday that malaria was the leading killer in the impoverished landlocked country…” (Donath, 7/24).

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Rains, Lack Of Toilets Could Worsen S. Sudan Cholera Epidemic, ICRC Warns

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Rains and lack of toilets threaten to make South Sudan cholera epidemic even deadlier
“The cholera epidemic in South Sudan is bad, but now that the rains have begun — in areas where a lack of toilets means a lot of feces out in the open — it may become much worse. Poor sanitary conditions and the scarcity of safe drinking water put thousands at risk of being infected with the deadly disease, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement…” (Caspani, 7/24).

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Ghana To Begin Free Sanitary Pad Program To Lower Girls' Dropout Rates

VOA News: World Bank Loan to Subsidize Ghana School Project
“Ghana’s government plans to use some of its World Bank loans to fund a free sanitary pad program for young girls in poor rural communities to reduce dropout rates. The initiative is part of a program known as the Ghana secondary school improvement project…” (Mantey, 7/23).

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Myanmar's Rohingya Struggle To Access Health Care

Reuters: Myanmar Muslims in remote Rakhine suffer worsening health crisis
“…Since international aid groups were forced out of [Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine] in February and March, members of the minority Muslim Rohingya community who relied on them say basic health care services have all but disappeared…” (Mooney/Win, 7/24).

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Men, Women, Children Kidnapped For Sexual Slavery In DRC, MSF Says

The Guardian: Sexual slavery rife in Democratic Republic of the Congo, says MSF
“Men, women and children are being kidnapped and held for months as slaves by militias in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Health care professionals working for Médicins sans Frontières in the gold and diamond mining regions of Okapi forest, Orientale province, say they have treated hundreds of women who had been seized from villages and held as sex slaves, many of whom have life-threatening injuries from sustained abuse…” (Kelly, 7/23).

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Editorials and Opinions

Work Continues To End AIDS Epidemic By 2030

The Economist: Is the end in sight?
“Targets, students of management agree, help achieve goals. The best are demanding but realistic. And that is something those in charge of the fight against AIDS have come to realize. Their latest target, by far their most ambitious, is to end the epidemic by 2030. … To arrive at a point in 2030 where the rate of new infections is negligible is an ambitious aim, but not a foolish one. The tools to achieve it exist, and those at the 20th International AIDS Conference, held this week in Melbourne, are sharpening them. Sadly, though, six delegates on their way to the conference were killed when flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17th. … But their work goes on…” (7/26).

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More Commitment Needed To Stop Ebola Outbreak In West Africa

New York Times: Why Are We Ignoring a New Ebola Outbreak?
Ken Isaacs, vice president of programs and government relations for Samaritan’s Purse

“Three small, impoverished nations in West Africa — Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone — now demand the world’s attention as the deadly Ebola epidemic spins out of control, killing hundreds and threatening millions. … I urge all organizations with capacity in medical, public health, social mobilization, and water/sanitation to help in this fight. A disaster has descended upon West Africa, and it deserves the full attention of the international community. The world’s deadliest and most contagious disease is on a collision course with millions in major population centers. The situation is urgent. There is no time to wait” (7/24).

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Early Marriage, FGM Connected To Other Injustices Girls Endure

The Guardian: Patriarchy allows child marriage and female genital mutilation to flourish
Ghadeer Malek, Rachel Arinii, and Nelly Bassily, members of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development

“…The commitments made at the Girl Summit on eradicating FGM and child marriage, the focus on tougher laws (including putting the onus on parents to protect girls from FGM) and increased funding for prevention programs are important steps to combat these harmful practices. But until we link these issues to girls’ lack of education, poverty, marginalization and exclusion in the patriarchal societies in which they live, little will change. … Saturday 11 October will mark the third International Day of the Girl. We, and other young feminists, will use that opportunity to reiterate that all forms of oppression of girls are interconnected and to reaffirm their human rights” (7/24).

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World Must Prioritize Health, Safety, Education For Girls

CNN: Time to stand with girls demanding change
Melissa Hillebrenner, director of the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign

“Thursday marks 100 days since more than 200 schoolgirls were abducted from their families and community in northeast Nigeria, a reminder of the horrors and hardships many girls face when trying to get an education. … [I]t is essential that we make sure education is the right of all girls, not a privilege for a few. This means creating economic opportunities and getting rid of discriminatory laws. It means condemning child marriage and enforcing laws against it. And it means making sure girls have access to quality health care and addressing their sexual and reproductive health rights and needs — including family planning…” (7/23).

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Improving Access To Toilets Can Cut Child Stunting

The Guardian: What do toilets have to do with nutrition? More than you might think
Lawrence Haddad, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute

“…Because of the public goods nature of access to improved water and sanitation (private income can take you only so far — there needs to be a functioning public drain, sewer, and treatment system), government leadership and effective functioning is vital. … Water and sanitation have long been the orphan sectors in development. Through a partnership with a fellow orphan issue, undernutrition, all three will hopefully remain high on the development agenda in the next decade. Given the massive potential for improved scope, sanitation is key to unfettered child growth” (7/24).

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Enforcing Reparations Can Empower Sexual Violence Survivors In DRC

Inter Press Service: Empowering DR Congo’s Sexual Violence Survivors by Enforcing Reparations
Sucharita Varanasi, senior program officer with Physicians for Human Rights

“…Understanding the various hurdles that a [sexual violence] survivor must overcome in accessing the formal legal system is the first step in a survivor’s pursuit of justice. … Reparations, both monetary and non-monetary, can provide emotional, psychological, physical, and economic relief for the pain, humiliation, trauma, and violence that sexual violence survivors have endured. Enforcing monetary reparations justifies the hardship and difficulty of pursing justice in the first place for the survivors. The international community can help a sexual violence survivor move from a position of pain to power. The main question is whether we are willing to urge local governments and community leaders to make it happen” (7/24).

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Recent Releases

Blog Summarizes News From AIDS 2014

The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” live-blogged this week from the AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne, Australia.

Science Speaks: AIDS 2014: Antiretroviral treatment update kicks off final plenary session
“Professor David Cooper kicked off the final opening plenary in Melbourne today with a review on antiretroviral therapy including a review of recommended drug regimens for first and second line treatment, the impact of antiretroviral therapy on transmission, and the state of treatment roll-out…” (Lubinski, 7/24).

Science Speaks: AIDS 2014: Pediatric treatment planning, action call at last plenary
“Shaffiq Essajee spoke during today’s plenary session about HIV prevention and treatment for children with a strong focus on the treatment side…” (Lubinski, 7/24).

Science Speaks: AIDS 2014: Peer programs engage injection drug users in Kenya and Tanzania
“During a symposium on harm reduction and people who use drugs today, researchers from Kenya and Tanzania pointed to strategies and services to increase the participation of people who use drugs in services aimed at reducing their risks of acquiring HIV while improving their well-being…” (Lubinski, 7/25).

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AIDS.gov Blog Speaks With Experts About AIDS 2014 Highlights

Miguel Gomez, director of AIDS.gov and senior communications adviser at the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy at HHS, interviews experts about issues discussed at the 20th International AIDS Conference.

AIDS.gov blog: NIH’s Dr. Carl Dieffenbach Shares Highlights from Thursday at AIDS 2014
Gomez speaks with Carl Dieffenbach of NIH/NIAID to hear his summary of conference highlights of the day (7/24).

AIDS.gov blog: NIH’s Dr. Gina Brown Reflects on HIV Among Women and Girls — Highlights from AIDS 2014
Gomez speaks with Gina Brown, coordinator of women and girls and microbicides research at the NIH’s Office of AIDS Research, about the conference’s focus on women and girls (7/24).

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PLOS Blog Post Discusses MDG 6 Progress

PLOS “Speaking of Medicine”: Millennium Development Goal 6: Measuring Progress
Peter Hotez, co-editor in chief of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, examines findings from two “studies that aim to measure the global public health progress on MDG 6,” which aims to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases (7/24).

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Blog Post Examines Data On HIV, TB, Malaria

Humanosphere: Visualizing progress against HIV, TB, and malaria
Katie Leach-Kemon, a Humanosphere contributor and policy translation specialist at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, discusses progress made in reducing death rates from HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, but how the number of HIV infections in many countries continues to rise (7/24).

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