In this post in Huffington Post’s “Healthy Living” blog, John-Manuel Andriote, a journalist and author living with HIV, writes, “For all of us living with HIV infection — Oct. 27 will mark seven years since my own diagnosis — the question we face daily, hopefully more consciously and deliberately than most, is how shall we live, knowing as we do that we will most assuredly die one day?” Reflecting on the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) that took place in Washington last month, he continues, “An AIDS-free generation is certainly a worthy goal,” but “even if tens of billions of additional dollars are allocated to address HIV/AIDS, even if the Republicans don’t succeed in inflicting their Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ upon the nation and the world, the question will continue to be what it has been for 31 years … Will we have the political will to end AIDS?”
Global Health Conferences and Meetings
In anticipation of the AIDS 2012 conference, to be held in Washington, D.C., from July 22-27, CDC Director Thomas Frieden spoke at the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies, where he provided an update on the epidemic in the U.S. and abroad, VOA News reports. Frieden provided statistics on HIV infection and death rates; recounted “trying to treat hundreds of patients in the early days of the epidemic,” before treatment was available; and said that “around the world, … HIV/AIDS remains the biggest infectious disease challenge more than 30 years into the epidemic,” the news service writes.
“For the first time in over 20 years, the biennial International AIDS Conference will be hosted on American soil,” U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby writes in this post in the AIDS.gov blog. “From July 22 to 27, AIDS 2012 will convene scientists, health professionals, policymakers and those affected by AIDS in Washington, D.C., to assess progress to date and identify next steps in the global response,” he writes. He notes, “The conference theme, Turning the Tide Together, underscores the pivotal moment in which AIDS 2012 is taking place,” and discusses the role that the U.S. has played in achieving scientific progress in the fight against AIDS since it was identified 30 years ago (3/15).
In the Huffington Post’s “Politics” blog, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, notes that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at the XIX International AIDS Conference in July that all women should be able to decide “when and whether to have children” and that PEPFAR, in a guidance [.pdf] released last week, said, “Voluntary family planning should be part of comprehensive quality care for persons living with HIV,” and referred to family planning as a human right. “Then, in bold type, they punctuated it with, ‘PEPFAR funds may not be used to purchase family planning commodities,'” she writes. “They take it a step further with a caveat that before anyone decides they’d like their program to have anything to do with family planning, they had best consult relevant U.S. legal counsel first,” she adds. “To be fair, they do say that PEPFAR programs can just refer women to a different program that offers family planning,” but those programs are not always available, Sippel writes, adding, “So the suggestion is flawed from the start.”
International AIDS Conference To Highlight International, Domestic U.S. AIDS Policies, Politico Reports
When the International AIDS Conference convenes in Washington in July, the first time the U.S. will host the conference in more than 20 years, “it will signal that the U.S. has brought its HIV policies into better alignment with the principles it advocates abroad,” Politico reports, referencing the lifting of the “Helms rule” — which denied U.S. visas to people who are HIV positive — in 2009. “The policy was especially painful to advocates because U.S. scientific and financial investments are largely responsible for stemming the tide of the epidemic around the world,” the news service writes. “But the meeting will also highlight other ways that the U.S. has fallen short, advocates say,” the news service writes, noting that the U.S. epidemic is not slowing. Politico discusses the successes and criticisms of several domestic HIV/AIDS initiatives under the Obama administration (Feder, 5/13).
In a guest blog post on the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks,” Chris Collins, vice president and director of public policy at amfAR: The Foundation for AIDS Research, and Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, summarize a Capitol Hill briefing “on the research agenda for beginning to end the AIDS epidemic” that took place Wednesday. “[R]esearchers, policymakers, and advocates joined our organizations and the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus” at the briefing to discuss “the research agenda needed to bring the epidemic to a close, with special focus on” combination interventions for treatment and prevention; “progress on vaccine and cure research”; and the importance of HIV testing, they write. Collins and Warren conclude, “We need to finance the response, make strategic choices about what to bring to scale (and what not to) and stop discriminating against high-risk populations. Whether you’re a researcher, policymaker or advocate, new scientific developments are how we end the epidemic” (5/24).
The U.S. has “been working toward integrating HIV, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence services for women overseas,” and “[i]t’s time we did the same at home,” Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, writes in this Huffington Post “Impact” blog post. With the AIDS 2012 conference being held in Washington, D.C., this year, “[t]he administration has already stated it will take lessons learned from global AIDS programs to enhance our programs in the U.S.,” she continues.
In this post in the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ (CSIS) “Smart Global Health” blog, Katherine Bliss, deputy director and senior fellow at the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, discusses a report — titled, “The International AIDS Conference Returns to the United States” — that “examines the political history of the international AIDS conferences from 1985 to the present.” She writes, “The report finds that the most significant conferences from participants’ point of view have featured either major scientific breakthroughs, such as the 1996 Vancouver meeting, or substantial sociopolitical breakthroughs, as in Durban in 2000, when unprecedented civil society engagement helped generate momentum for the development of an international consensus to institute and scale up treatment for HIV-infected populations in resource-limited settings” (3/29).
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), “[t]he largest global AIDS organization[,] accused the Obama administration and Congress on Friday of falling short on promised funding and oversight in the worldwide fight against the epidemic,” The Hill’s “Healthwatch” blog reports.
During the closing ceremonies of the International AIDS Confernce-AIDS 2010, President Barack Obama “on Friday pledged to redouble efforts to fight HIV and AIDS through his Global Health Initiative, despite dealing with economic hard times in the wake of a global recession,” Reuters reports. According to the news service, “Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said their focus was on a broad, sustainable and effective approach to the global epidemic” (Kelland, 7/23).