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Media Outlets Examine Efforts To Tackle HIV/AIDS Worldwide

Ahead of the International AIDS Conference, set for July 18-23 in Vienna, Austria, Reuters features an interview with Gottfried Hirnschall, the new director of the WHO’s HIV Department, who speaks of the need for current funds for the global HIV/AIDS programs to be used more efficiently to achieve universal access to treatment for all HIV/AIDS patients.

“The conference is happening at a really interesting time where there is a lot of discussion about funding leveling off and competition for resources. The question is how we position the whole HIV agenda in that broader context,” he said.

“Since 2010 was a deadline set by world leaders for universal access to treatment for all HIV/AIDS patients, this year’s conference in Vienna coincides with a major push to reach that goal, although most campaigners say the target will be missed,” the news service writes. “It also coincides with a global economic crisis which is hitting funding levels — a factor campaigners say is already putting lives at risk.” The article details the international pressure on drug manufacturers to reduce the cost of medications for HIV/AIDS – a pressure that “Hirnschall said … should be matched by commitments to more innovative ways of using health workers and local systems to care for patients” (Kelland, 7/7).

IRIN/PlusNews also features a Q&A with Hirnschall, where he discussed that state of universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care (7/8).

In related news, VOA News reports Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will tell participants at the upcoming AIDS Conference that “the first few minutes after HIV infection may be a window of opportunity to prevent the AIDS virus from firmly taking hold in the body” and unveil findings about recent studies of microbicides.

“Once the virus establishes itself and truly begins to replicate, it establishes what we call a reservoir that is almost impossible, with the tools that we have now, to eradicate,” Fauci said during a news conference Wednesday, VOA writes. However, “[s]tudying those early [HIV] infections, Fauci says, could lead to insights for better prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS and the development of a vaccine” (DeCapua, 7/7).