KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Senate Confirms Gayle E. Smith To Head USAID After Months-Long Delay

New York Times: Senate Confirms Gayle E. Smith as Head of USAID
“The Senate on Monday voted to confirm Gayle E. Smith, a former national security aide to President Obama, to lead the United States Agency for International Development, the federal agency responsible for overseas humanitarian issues like feeding refugees, building clinics, and distributing foreign aid. The vote was 79 to 7…” (Nixon, 11/30).

Reuters: After seven months, Senate approves Obama USAID nominee
“…Obama nominated Smith in April, but her nomination was delayed by Republican Senator Ted Cruz, a contender for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination, as a protest over the nuclear talks with Iran that led to the international agreement announced in July…” (Zengerle, 11/30).

U.S. Department of State: U.S. Senate’s Confirmation of Gayle Smith as Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development
In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said, “…There is no question that Gayle will be the right person in the right job at a crucial time. Her career in the Clinton Administration, at USAID, in the NGO community, and most recently at the White House has fully prepared her for this responsibility…” (11/30).

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World Leaders Begin Climate Talks In Paris, Vow To Overcome Divisions On Carbon Emissions, Financing

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Can Paris climate deal end funding drought to help the poor cope?
“African governments will push hard at U.N. climate talks over the next two weeks to right what they see as a global wrong that is now becoming starker: a drought of financial support to help the people who are bearing the brunt of a warming planet. … [M]oney to help vulnerable people cope with climate pressures has not been forthcoming from international donors in anything like the amounts experts say are needed…” (Rowling, 11/27).

Wall Street Journal: World Leaders in Paris Vow to Overcome Divisions on Climate Change
“World leaders on Monday vowed to finish a deal to curb greenhouse gases and overcome a thorny divide on financing, as they kicked off international climate talks against a backdrop of heavy security. … Developing countries want their highly industrialized peers to make good on pledges to mobilize $100 billion a year in public and private climate financing from 2020 onward. Some officials have warned they won’t support a deal in Paris that doesn’t deliver high levels of funding. Any agreement would require the consent of nearly 200 countries…” (Horobin/Mauldin, 11/30).

Washington Post: Obama urges world action on climate change: No nation ‘immune’ to global warming
“President Obama joined leaders from 150 nations on Monday in pledging action against climate change, kicking off a historic two-week gathering that Obama called a ‘turning point’ in the battle against one of humanity’s gravest threats. … U.S. officials formally announced the formation of a 20-nation initiative to spur funding on energy research, in tandem with a similar undertaking led by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and 27 of the world’s wealthiest private investors…” (Mufson/Warrick, 11/30).

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Increase In HIV Diagnoses, Deaths Among Adolescents In Asia Raises Alarm, According To U.N. Report

News outlets highlight findings from a new report titled Adolescents: Under the Radar in the Asia-Pacific AIDS Response and published by the Asia-Pacific Inter-Agency Task Team on Young Key Populations, which includes UNICEF and UNAIDS.

The Guardian: Mobile dating apps spur HIV epidemic among Asia’s teenagers, says U.N.
“United Nations research has found the growing use of mobile dating apps by young gay men is a major factor in a new HIV epidemic among teenagers in Asia, The Guardian can reveal. … The two-year study found that smartphone dating apps have expanded the options for spontaneous casual sex as never before…” (Holmes, 11/30).

New York Times: Rise in HIV Among China’s Youth Draws Attention for World AIDS Day
“As China prepares to observe World AIDS Day on Tuesday, health officials and researchers are raising alarms over an increase in new infections among high school and college students…” (Tatlow, 11/30).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Number of AIDS deaths among young Asians doubles over past decade: U.N.
“The estimated number of adolescents dying of AIDS in the Asia Pacific region has more than doubled since 2005, experts said on Monday, warning of a ‘hidden epidemic’…” (Tang, 11/30).

U.N. News Centre: ‘Hidden epidemic’ of HIV hitting adolescents in Asia-Pacific region, U.N. agencies warn
“…[T]he report warned that the AIDS epidemic cannot be ended as a public health threat by 2030 without tackling the issue of adolescents. It called on governments to provide access to adolescent-sensitive HIV testing and treatment and develop better data and adolescent-specific laws and policies, including comprehensive sex education in schools and through social media, information on where to get an HIV test, and condom use…” (11/30).

Xinhua News: Increase in AIDS among adolescents worrying: UNAIDS official
“…[Simon Bland, director of the UNAIDS New York Liaison Office,] said that recent figures from China were a ‘real concern.’ The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) said that there were 575,000 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) by the end of October this year and 177,000 deaths…” (12/1).

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WHO Urges Nations To Expand Antiretroviral Therapy To All People Living With HIV, Presents New Treatment Guidelines

News outlets report on WHO’s new policy brief discussing the agency’s consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs to treat and prevent HIV infection, as well as its call on World AIDS Day to expand access to antiretroviral therapy.

Deutsche Welle: Fighting HIV with life-prolonging drugs
“…On World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) will launch a report with detailed information about antiretroviral treatment, which they say everyone with HIV should have access to. … The positive effect of the antiretroviral (ART) drugs is two-fold. Treatment brings down the viral count in patients to almost zero and keeps HIV-positive people healthy. Their sexual partners benefit from this as well…” (Bleiker, 12/1).

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency urges expanding antiretroviral therapy to all people living with HIV
“Expanding antiretroviral therapy to all people living with HIV is the key to ending the AIDS epidemic within a generation, the World Health Organization announced on the eve of World AIDS Day, presenting new ‘treat all’ recommendations to enable countries to expand treatment rapidly and efficiently…” (11/30).

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Access To HIV Treatment, Care Services Improving In Africa, Asia, But Stigma Persists

News outlets publish stories related to HIV/AIDS to mark World AIDS Day, recognized annually on December 1.

Agence France-Presse: Fighting AIDS a top priority in western Kenya
“…In Homa Bay, a remote rural region on the southern shores of Lake Victoria, AIDS is a major problem with studies showing that one in four people are HIV-positive. Every day, a team from the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) led by Patrick Kibira Ochoro heads out on foot to reach the most isolated areas, going door-to-door in a bid to discuss, persuade, and ultimately convince people to get tested…” (Belaud, 11/30).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Despite treatment advances, AIDS stigma lingers in rural South Africa
“…Over the last decade, an HIV-positive diagnosis has turned from a death sentence to a manageable problem in South Africa, due to cheap, widely available antiretroviral treatment. … But the stigma surrounding the disease has barely budged, particularly in rural areas like Qudeni, a remote village in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal province where hundreds of children have been left orphaned by the virus…” (Goering, 11/30).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: As they grow up, South African AIDS orphans confront crime, HIV
“…Hunger and poverty are just some of the threats facing the AIDS orphans of Qudeni, a village that, like thousands of other villages in South Africa, is struggling not just with the virus but the aftermath of a generation of parents lost to AIDS. The social fallout from a disease that has left an estimated 2.3 million South African children to be raised without parents is proving particularly hard to manage, experts say…” (Goering, 11/30).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: HIV stigma in Uganda puts mothers and babies at risk
“When Juliet Nalumu, overjoyed at her first pregnancy, visited her local hospital in eastern Uganda for a check-up, it turned into one of the worst days of her life. … Nalumu’s story is not unusual in eastern Uganda — and in many parts of Africa — where women are entirely dependent on their husbands for food, shelter and medicine, and where stigma against AIDS is common…” (Whiting, 11/30).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Myanmar’s HIV patients shunned despite progress in treatment
“…Myanmar has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in Asia. Under reforms by a semi-civilian government since 2011, access to medication has improved compared to a few years ago when cash-strapped clinics had to turn patients away. … Yet the stigma faced by people living with HIV lingers…” (Aung, 11/30).

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News Agencies Present HIV/AIDS Facts, Discuss Epidemic With Experts To Mark World AIDS Day

Deutsche Welle: HIV and AIDS in a nutshell
“It’s been 30 years since the HIV/AIDS epidemic shook the world. What is the current status of the virus globally? Are you at risk? Is there a cure? DW’s Kait Bolongaro went in search of answers…” (Bolongaro, 12/1).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Is the end of AIDS in sight? 10 facts about HIV/AIDS ahead of World AIDS Day
“Despite major advances, HIV/AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, particularly in low and middle income countries, with new diagnoses every year and young women in sub-Saharan Africa seen as being particularly at risk…” (Goldsmith, 11/30).

VOA News: Can We Reduce HIV Infections to Zero?
“A diagnosis of HIV/AIDS used to be a death sentence. Now, with proper treatment, people with HIV can live long, healthy lives. If they take their anti-AIDS drugs, the amount of the virus in their blood can be so small that it is impossible to infect others…” (Pearson/Matteo, 11/30).

VOX: The HIV/AIDS pandemic, explained in 9 maps and charts
“AIDS first emerged in the early 1980s, claiming thousands of lives each year as it spread. But it wasn’t until the disease reached pandemic status more than a decade later that the global community really galvanized in an effort to stop it…” (Belluz, 12/1).

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Funding Shortfall, Lack Of Urgency Threaten Progress On HIV/AIDS, ONE Report Says

The Guardian: £8bn shortfall in tackling Aids threatens ‘millions of lives,’ report says
“Complacency, fatigue, and an £8bn ($12bn) funding shortfall are jeopardizing global efforts to bring the HIV and AIDS epidemic under control, the advocacy group ONE has warned. In a report to mark World AIDS Day on Tuesday, the group says that ‘the notion of AIDS as an urgent, pressing issue of global concern has faded from the news headlines and the hallways of governments,’ risking the hard-won progress made over the past three decades…” (Jones, 11/30).

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Data Show 17 Nations In Latin America, Caribbean Appear To Have Eliminated Mother-To-Child HIV Transmission, PAHO/WHO Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: 17 countries in Americas may have eliminated mother-to-child HIV transmission: U.N.
“Data from 17 countries and territories across the Americas, including the United States, Canada, and Chile, show they may have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis, the U.N. World Health Organization said on Monday. … The 17 countries and territories, including several Caribbean islands, report ‘data consistent with dual elimination’ of HIV and syphilis, with births in those places accounting for about a third of all births in the region, PAHO/WHO said…” (Moloney, 12/1).

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Environment, Malnutrition, Safe Drinking Water More Important Issues Than Church's Stance On Condoms For HIV Prevention, Pope Francis Says

Associated Press: Pope: There are bigger issues than condoms and HIV
“Pope Francis has dismissed a question about whether condoms can be condoned in the fight against AIDS by saying there are more important issues confronting the world, like malnutrition, environmental exploitation, and the lack of safe drinking water. … He said when those problems are taken care of, questions like condoms and AIDS can be addressed…” (Winfield, 11/30).

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Changing Demographics, Poor Socio-Economic Conditions, Lack Of Funding Challenge Sexual, Reproductive Health Service Providers In Haiti, Devex Reports

Devex: In Haiti, lack of funding for social programs undermines sexual and reproductive health services
“Haitian community-based organizations at the forefront of sexual and reproductive health services delivery are struggling to address new challenges posed by changing demographics and unfavorable socio-economic conditions. Urbanization, a breakdown of traditional family structures, and poverty are among factors that have given rise to harmful sexual practices among the country’s youth leading to increased exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, unsafe abortions, and gender-based violence, according to public health experts…” (Halais, 11/30).

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Millions Of Nepalese Children Face Food, Medicine Shortages Ahead Of Winter Due To Border Blockades, UNICEF Warns

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Nepal unrest leaves millions of children facing food, medicine shortages: U.N.
“Unrest over Nepal’s new constitution has led to severe shortages of fuel, food, medicines, and vaccines, putting more than three million children at risk of disease during the harsh winter months, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said on Monday…” (Whiting, 11/30).

U.N. News Centre: Nepal: millions of children at risk this winter due to severe shortage of essential supplies, UNICEF warns
“…Over the past 10 weeks, vital imports of essential commodities have been severely restricted at Nepal’s southern border due to unrest over the country’s new constitution. According to UNICEF, the government’s regional medical stores have already run out of BCG vaccines against tuberculosis and stocks of other vaccines and antibiotics are critically low…” (11/30).

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El Salvador's Strict Abortion Laws Have Financial, Psychological Impact On Some Families, Amnesty International Report Shows

The Guardian: El Salvador’s anti-abortion law makes criminals of mothers who miscarry
“…Abortion has been banned in all circumstances since 1998. El Salvador is one of five countries where there are no exceptions, even if the woman is raped, her health or life is at risk, or if the fetus is seriously deformed. … The consequences are catastrophic for the women and their families, according to Amnesty International’s new report Separated Families, Broken Ties, which details the financial and psychological impact on three families…” (Lakhani, 11/30).

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Warming Climate Could Bring Increase Of Insect-Borne Diseases To U.S., Washington Post Reports

Washington Post: The invisible threat: Rising temperatures mean insects can carry viruses such as West Nile to wider areas
“…Many of the predicted consequences of global warming — such as rising sea levels and more powerful storms — can seem remote, separated by time and geography from the daily concerns of most Americans. But scientists say even a relatively modest rise in temperatures can trigger substantial changes within the invisible ecosystems in which pathogens and hosts interact. The results can be extraordinarily difficult to predict, but a preponderance of evidence suggests that a warmer United States will see greater numbers of insect pests and new waves of insect-borne disease…” (Warrick, 11/27).

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Editorials and Opinions

Opinion Pieces Recognize World AIDS Day, Discuss Strategies To End Epidemic

CNN: Time to write last chapter on HIV
Chris Beyrer, president of the International AIDS Society and Desmond Tutu professor of public health and human rights at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Anthony S. Fauci, director of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

“…[W]e must avoid the temptation to prematurely declare victory against HIV. … [T]his epidemic is far from over. … Several critical steps need to be taken: First, the global community of nations must strengthen its commitment to funding the best and most promising research on HIV. … Second, the United States needs to continue its long-standing global leadership in expanding access to essential HIV treatment and prevention. … Third, it is equally important to address laws and policies that discourage or prevent people in need from accessing HIV services. … We believe that, with the right combination of global resolve, political commitment, and financial resources, the world can begin to write the last chapter in the long struggle against HIV” (11/30).

Huffington Post: Focusing on Efficiency in the AIDS Fight
Mathieu Lamiaux, senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

“…The fight [against HIV] needs to focus on deploying our limited resources more efficiently. … [T]he focus needs to shift to operational effectiveness. We now need to translate this into the operations of African health centers. … The efficiency strategies employed by Africa’s top-performing health centers are not widely used today. If broadly adopted, hundreds of millions of dollars could be saved each year, money that could finance treatment for millions of additional patients. HIV fighters will need to switch to continuous efficiency improvement as corporations do. Only by thinking, organizing, and using resources differently can the global health community end the epidemic” (11/29).

Huffington Post: Measuring and Mitigating HIV Stigma: An Overlooked Imperative to Ending AIDS
Kent Messer, behavioral economist at the University of Delaware

“…Despite medical advances, getting to zero as envisioned by UNAIDS is impossible unless systematic efforts are undertaken to both measure and mitigate HIV stigma. … Campaigns to reduce HIV stigma should address both the fear of transmission and the social dimension of stigma. Those working on HIV/AIDS issues must not only invest in medication, but also in educational efforts targeting mitigation by addressing misinformation about how people are infected and challenging cultural and/or religious influences that may consciously or unconsciously fuel stigmatization and discrimination. Ultimately, measuring and mitigating stigma must become a higher priority for both governments and non-government organizations in Africa, the United States, and throughout the world…” (11/30).

Huffington Post: Want a Healthy World? Let the HIV Response Lead the Way
Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC, and Timothy Mastro, director of global health, population, and nutrition at FHI 360

“…Successful achievement of both the [Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDG)] health goal and the UNAIDS Fast-Track targets hinges on innovation. … While the range of options for impacting HIV has grown tremendously, additional research is needed to make things simpler to use, to expand choices, and to make health a reality for all. Here, too, HIV is aligned with the broader health response, which seeks to expand access to effective vaccines and durable cures to a range of other diseases. We believe the same tools — a vaccine and a cure — can and must be pursued for HIV. … Smart investments to sustain the momentum for HIV/AIDS control will strengthen health systems and contribute greatly to ending poverty, hunger, and inequality, moving the world closer to ending HIV/AIDS once and for all” (11/25).

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Investments In Health Workers, Health Systems Strengthening Needed To Control Ebola, Other Disease Outbreaks

New York Times: Letter to the Editor: Preventing Ebola Outbreaks
David Barash, chief medical officer of the GE Foundation, and Lynn Black, former chair of Last Mile Health

“…[W]e must focus less on the status and more on strengthening the health systems to treat and contain [the Ebola] virus and subsequent outbreaks. … Significant investment and attention has been devoted to training … health workers and implementing systems to manage suspected and confirmed Ebola cases. … We must build on these investments and other sustainable system-strengthening programs, focusing attention on the training and deployment of skilled health workers in remote regions still beyond the reach of the health system, not just to blunt our fear of Ebola, but to give hope that we can contain any other outbreaks, improve maternal and child health care delivery, and stem the tide of noncommunicable diseases” (12/1).

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Guttmacher-Lancet Commission On SRHR To Address Best Available Evidence, Strategies, Links To Achieving SDGs

Devex: How SRHR has become central to achieving the SDGs
Ann Starrs, president and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute

“…[P]rogress on [sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)] is inextricably linked with larger development goals like reducing poverty, achieving better health, and ensuring equal rights for women and girls. … But while the [Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)] are comprehensive, visionary, and inspiring in many ways, they are also limited in the scope of SRHR issues they address. … As a result, the SDG indicators are unlikely to include certain critically important elements of SRHR, including safe abortion care, nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and the need for high-quality, confidential and timely sexual and reproductive health services. … To address these likely gaps, we have partnered with The Lancet to establish a commission on SRHR in the post-2015 world. The Guttmacher-Lancet Commission will articulate a vision, define priorities, and produce a set of SRHR recommendations on the basis of the best available evidence. These recommendations are expected to be released in 2017 and will make the case for policies and programs to turn that vision into reality over the next 15 years…” (11/30).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

Kaiser Family Foundation Updates Fact Sheet Examining Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Kaiser Family Foundation: The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic
This updated fact sheet examines the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, highlighting the latest global estimates from UNAIDS, strategies for treatment and prevention, and U.S. government and global responses (11/30).

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Blog Posts Recognize World AIDS Day, U.S. Engagement In Ending Epidemic

AIDS.gov: U.S. PEPFAR Teams-up with Digital Influencers in Campaign to Support Treatment Expansion to Stop HIV/AIDS
“On November 30, 2015, the eve of World AIDS Day, … [partners] around the world … launch[ed] #TreatmentForAll, a global movement to help stop the AIDS epidemic by quickly initiating treatment for all people diagnosed with HIV. The movement’s shared goal is to ensure treatment for 28 million people by 2020…” (11/30).

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: World AIDS Day is Dec. 1
Shannon Hader, director of CDC’s Division of Global HIV & TB, recognizes World AIDS Day and discusses CDC’s efforts “to meet the ambitious but achievable goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2030” (11/30).

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'Science Speaks' Examines MMWR Articles On Antiretroviral Therapy, Opinion Piece On HIV

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: Men lagging behind women on HIV treatment rolls, viral load monitoring gets scaled up … we’re reading about catching up to get ahead in a World AIDS Day MMWR, and more
Antigone Barton, senior writer and editor of “Science Speaks,” discusses two articles in CDC’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The first looks at the ratio of women to men among new antiretroviral therapy enrollees in 12 countries for each year from 2002-2013. The other examines viral load testing among people undergoing antiretroviral therapy in seven sub-Saharan African nations. Barton also highlights an opinion piece by Carlos del Rio, chair of the HIV Medicine Association, chair of the Department of Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health, and professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (11/30).

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Incorporation Of Climate Change Risk Management Integral To U.S. Development Efforts

USAID’s “Impact”: How and Why USAID is Ensuring Our Development Efforts are Climate Resilient
Carrie Thompson, deputy assistant administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment, discusses USAID’s efforts to respond to climate change, including the agency’s incorporation of climate risk management into U.S. development assistance (11/30).

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December 2015 Issue Of WHO Bulletin Available Online

WHO: Bulletin of the World Health Organization
The December 2015 WHO Bulletin includes news, research, and policy articles on various topics, as well as an editorial by WHO Director-General Margaret Chan on lessons learned from the Ebola epidemic (December 2015).

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