“Coinciding with the 2012 General Assembly AIDS review, the Permanent Missions of Malawi and Luxembourg to the United Nations and UNAIDS organized a panel discussion to further understand the strategic investments needed for the AIDS response,” a UNAIDS reports in a feature story on its webpage, adding, “The discussion brought together representatives of member states, U.N. organizations and civil society.” According to the story, “UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe stressed the need to focus investments where they can have greater impact”; “[p]anelists agreed that incremental yet bold steps must be taken to close the financing gap by 2015, including greater allocations from domestic and international resources”; and the “UNAIDS Investment Framework was presented as an opportunity for development partners and national governments toward developing a ‘shared responsibility’ agenda and maximizing value for money” (6/12).
Elly Katabira, president of the International AIDS Society and co-chair of the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012), said he will use the conference as an occasion to say “thank you” to the U.S., VOA News reports. “We want the world to know how we appreciate the contribution of the American people. We know that we haven’t been going to the U.S. for the last 22 years, but in spite of that [the] U.S. is still the leading contributor to the struggle against the epidemic,” Katabira said, according to the news service. The conference will be held in Washington, D.C., from July 22-27, VOA notes, adding, “The U.S. hadn’t hosted the conference in so long due to a travel ban on those who were HIV-positive.” Katabira said he will stress continued funding for efforts to fight the epidemic, increased awareness and involvement among young people, and decreased stigma and discrimination against men who have sex with men and transgendered persons, according to the news service (De Capua, 6/28).
In a feature story, Al Jazeera examines Cuba’s national health care system, which “works — or is supposed to work — by emphasizing primary and preventative health care.” However, after subsidies from the former Soviet Union “ended and Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin, nothing was the same again,” according to the news agency, which notes the system experiences drug shortages, patients have long wait times, and some hospitals are dirty or malfunctioning. “In all fairness, in the past five years, the government has made great efforts to improve hospitals and health centers, but again, lack of resources is making the process painfully slow,” Al Jazeera writes, adding, “The system is free, but it is neither fast nor efficient for two important reasons. One is obviously the lack of financial resources, and the other — which is related to the first — is the ‘export’ of doctors, nurses and dentists in exchange for hard currency.” The feature concludes, “But for all its shortcomings, Cubans do have better access to health care than the majority of those living in many ‘developing nations,’ where public health is shockingly inadequate” (Newman, 6/18).
During a live webcast discussing recent changes at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, “[p]anelists discussed the fund’s new strategy and what this strategy means for the global fight against these three diseases,” GlobalPost’s “Global Pulse” blog reports. J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted the Global Fund’s new general manager, Gabriel Jaramillo, had moved quickly in focusing on restructuring and realigning the fund, according to the blog. Todd Summers, independent consultant and chair of the Strategy, Investment & Impact Committee at the Global Fund, said, “Now we see lots of opportunity to really make a big difference and change forever the trajectory” of the epidemics, “Global Pulse” notes.
“More than 100 million condoms will be distributed annually to sex workers, men who have sex with men, and other groups vulnerable to HIV as part of a new five-year program to be run by the Ethiopian government and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” PlusNews reports. “Dubbed MULU, the Amharic word for comprehensive, the $70 million program — implemented by the NGOs Population Services International and World Learning — will also target day laborers in the booming construction industry, migrant workers and their partners,” the news service notes.
U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Terence McCulley spoke on Monday in Abuja at the inauguration of a Defense Reference Laboratory, Leadership reports, noting he said the laboratory, “which is the first of its kind in the sub-region,” was supported by U.S. funding. According to the newspaper, McCulley said the Reference Laboratory Program is part of U.S. assistance to Nigeria through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and Nigeria’s Ministry of Defense (NMOD) through the Walter Reed Program (WRP-N) and the Emergency Plan Implementation Committee (EPIC), which began in 2005 (8/30).
“Government assurances that the scaling back of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program in South Africa (SA) will be carefully managed to protect patients are welcome, but … [t]he reality is that the Department of Health is struggling to cope with severe medical staff shortages, financial resources that never seem to stretch far enough, inadequate infrastructure and maintenance programs, and administrative bottlenecks,” a Business Day editorial states. Though the reworking of PEPFAR funding will take place over five years “and does not entail the complete loss” of funding, “the shortfall will have to come from somewhere,” the editorial says, adding, “It will be tragic if, just as we are starting to see light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in SA, the gains of the past few years were to be reversed due to the loss of critical foreign funding and the government’s lack of capacity to plug the gap.”
The Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog examines a recent study that found only slightly more than 44 percent of women in the Nyanza province of Kenya deliver their infants in a health care facility, with many women citing fear of stigma and discrimination as a reason for not attending clinics for prenatal care. Janet Turan of the University of Alabama led the study, published in the August edition of PLoS Medicine, as well as a literature review showing the impact of stigma and discrimination on efforts to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, according to the blog. The researchers “conclude that efforts to address HIV-related stigma in and out of health settings are needed, if efforts targeting maternal mortality and parent to child HIV transmission are to succeed,” the blog writes (Barton, 8/29).
“Researchers have identified a mysterious new disease that has left scores of people in Asia and some in the United States with AIDS-like symptoms even though they are not infected with HIV,” the Associated Press reports. “This is another kind of acquired immune deficiency that is not inherited and occurs in adults, but doesn’t spread the way AIDS does through a virus, said Dr. Sarah Browne, a scientist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,” who “helped lead the study with researchers in Thailand and Taiwan where most of the cases have been found since 2004,” according to the news service. “Researchers are calling this new disease an ‘adult-onset’ immunodeficiency syndrome because it develops later in life and they don’t know why or how,” AP writes, adding, “The fact that nearly all the patients so far have been Asian or Asian-born people living elsewhere suggests that genetic factors and something in the environment such as an infection may trigger the disease, researchers conclude” (Marchione, 8/22).
Gilead Sciences Signs Deals With 3 Indian Pharmaceutical Companies To Promote Low-Cost HIV Drugs In Developing Countries
Gilead Sciences Inc. announced Thursday that it plans to partner with Mylan Inc., Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. and Strides Arcolab Ltd. “to promote access to high-quality, low-cost generic versions of Gilead’s HIV medicine emtricitabine in developing countries,” the Wall Street Journal reports (Stevenson, 8/2). Gilead signed deals with the three Indian companies “to drive sales and reduce manufacturing costs of low-cost generic versions of its HIV drug emtricitabine in developing countries,” Reuters reports, noting that under the deals, Gilead “will provide technology and funding to help reduce manufacturing costs of the drug, the companies said” (Kuber, 8/2).