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Russian Government’s Censorship Of Websites With Harm Reduction Methods For Drug Users Helps Fuel HIV Epidemic, IPS Reports

“A recent government crackdown on Russian media, particularly online information portals specializing in health tips and harm reduction methods for drug users, has sparked widespread public opposition, with critics claiming that the ‘draconian silencing’ of public health advocates could worsen an already perilous health situation in the country,” Inter Press Service reports. “Given that Russia currently has one of the largest populations of injecting drug users in the world as well as one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics, the dissemination of such information is essential to keep the spread of the virus under control,” IPS writes. “The fact that the United Nations listed universal treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS as one of its most urgent millennium development goals (MDGs) — with a deadline of achieving universal treatment by 2015 — human rights and health advocates contend that Russia’s failure to allow information or services helpful to drug users breaches international human rights and public health laws,” according to the news service (Klomegah, 2/17).

Shah Says ‘Difficult Choices’ Made In FY13 International Affairs Budget Request

In this post on USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah says the FY 2013 International Affairs budget request “showcases President Obama’s commitment to making smart, efficient investments to help those in the greatest need while helping to create economic opportunity and safeguarding American security.” Despite “important results” from investments made last year in humanitarian assistance, HIV/AIDS, malaria and agriculture, “we’ve had to make difficult choices this year, consolidating some programs and eliminating others. Our 2013 budget shows a willingness to focus on countries and programs where we believe we can make the greatest impact,” Shah writes and outlines those efforts. “The investments included in the FY13 budget will improve the lives of people throughout the world. For millions, this assistance can literally mean the difference between life and death,” he concludes (2/16).

Webinar Examines Sexual Rights Of HIV-Positive Women

“On Tuesday the U.S. Positive Women’s Network (PWN) hosted a webinar to discuss HIV-positive women’s sexual rights and to commemorate Valentine’s Day as a day to uphold the rights of HIV-positive women to have safe and satisfying sexual lives,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog reports. According to the blog, “Presenters discussed various ways in which HIV-positive women can gain sexual and reproductive rights, from using a human rights-based approach, to implementing new biomedical prevention technologies through U.S. health care reform, to how to advocate for women-centered care” (Aziz, 2/16).

WHO Confirms Recommendations Regarding HIV, Female Hormonal Contraceptives After Review Of Studies

“A stakeholder consultation convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva has reviewed recent epidemiological studies related to HIV transmission and acquisition by women using hormonal contraceptives,” a UNAIDS press statement reports (2/16). In a technical statement (.pdf), “[t]he Geneva-based United Nations health agency confirmed its existing recommendations [Thursday] after a study published last year found using contraceptive injections doubles the chance women will catch HIV and transmit it to a male partner,” Bloomberg Businessweek reports (Hallam, 2/16). The WHO “concluded that hormonal contraception — whether the pill or injection — was safe for women at risk of HIV to use if they wanted to prevent pregnancy,” the Guardian notes (Boseley, 2/16).

Russian NGOs Fear Fate Of HIV Harm-Reduction Programs As Planned Exit Of Global Fund Occurs

The Moscow Times examines a potential shift in Russia’s public health priorities as programs funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria begin to phase out. “While the Global Fund’s eight-year presence in Russia was long expected to end, officials with regional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) largely dependent on the group’s financing say the country is now turning its back on widely accepted harm-reduction strategies and will let independent HIV-prevention groups wither and die,” the newspaper writes.

Burkina Faso Government Urged To increase Health Budget As Country Faces ARV Stock Outs

“Burkina Faso’s Network for Access to Essential Medicines (RAME) has called on the Burkinabè government to increase the budget allocation to the health sector to avoid interruptions to AIDS treatment,” Inter Press Service reports. “Despite an emergency plan announced in January, which will see the government spend around one billion CFA francs — two million dollars — to procure AIDS drugs in this West African country, patients and civil society groups are demanding permanent measures to ensure the availability of antiretrovirals (ARVs) and reagents,” the news service notes.

Small Cash Transfers To Young Women May Help Them Avoid HIV Infection, Study Suggests

Cash transfer programs involving small amounts of money paid to schoolgirls and their families who live in low-income settings can help the young women “resist the attentions of older men and avoid HIV infection, according to a new study” published online Wednesday in the Lancet, the Guardian reports (Boseley, 2/14). The study, conducted by researchers from the World Bank, the University of California at San Diego, and George Washington University, found that the weighted prevalence of HIV among girls who had received money was 1.2 percent (seven out of 490) compared with three percent in the control group (17 out of 799) after 18 months (Baird et al., 2/15).

Examining CDC’s Role In Global HIV, TB Research And Development

In “the first in a series of conversations with officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discussing the CDC’s role in global HIV and tuberculosis (TB) research and development,” the Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks” blog interviews Kayla Laserson, director of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)/CDC Field Research Station in Kisumu, Kenya. Laserson answers questions about her work with the CDC, the latest research projects underway at KEMRI/CDC, and progress in Kenya’s HIV response since she began working in Kisumu six years ago, among other topics (Mazzotta, 2/14).

Impact Of Child Malnourishment Similar To That Of AIDS

“Globally, malnutrition is the most important cause of illness and death,” Jeremy Laurance, health editor at the Independent, writes in this editorial. Laurance details the physical effects of malnutrition on a child and notes, “Malnutrition contributes to more than half of child deaths worldwide. … It affects virtually every organ system,” and “[i]ts impact on the immune system is similar to that of AIDS.”

Researchers Share Libraries Of Chemical Compounds To Spur Development Of Drug Candidates

Nature reports how “[i]n the hunt for drugs that target diseases in the developing world, … [p]harmaceutical companies are making entire libraries of chemical compounds publicly available, allowing researchers to rifle through them for promising drug candidates.” The journal writes, “The latest push for open innovation, unveiled last month as part of a World Health Organization road map to control neglected tropical diseases, will see 11 companies sharing their intellectual property to give researchers around the world a head start on investigating drug leads.”

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