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Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Global AIDS Funding Reduction Threatens Years Of Progress Toward Ending Epidemic

Devex: Funding shortfall threatens ‘test and treat’ for HIV and AIDS
“Global funding shortages and challenges in ensuring adherence to treatment are threatening to delay or even derail new recommendations that all HIV patients begin antiretroviral drug therapy as soon as they are diagnosed. … The ‘test and treat strategy’ could require extra donor funding in some countries, just as global support for HIV/AIDS is falling. UNAIDS, in a recent report laying out the costs needed to end the HIV epidemic by 2030, estimated the cost of hitting treatment targets in low- and middle-income countries at $19.3 billion next year…” (Green, 7/25).

Washington Post: The world spent $1 billion less on AIDS, jeopardizing decades of progress
“The 21st International AIDS Conference convened here last week amid an emerging global consensus that the end to an epidemic that has killed 35 million people might be achievable. … That optimism faded as delegates arrived in Durban to news that donor countries had reduced global HIV funding by more than $1 billion from 2014 to 2015. The reduction could jeopardize the remarkable gains made from investments over nearly two decades, including tens of billions of dollars from the United States. … Washington again provided the majority of last year’s HIV-related donations — nearly two-thirds of the $7.5 billion spent. But U.S. funding dropped [more than] $500 million from 2014, according to a joint report from the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS. They attributed it primarily to a timing issue, with the United States set to roll out new programs this year…” (Green, 7/25).

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Canada Announces Increase In Global Fund Contribution Ahead Of Hosting Replenishment Conference

Globe and Mail: Canada boosts aid to fight Big Three infectious diseases
“Canada hopes its plan to ‘proactively increase’ its contributions to fighting the world’s three most deadly infectious diseases — tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria — will inspire others to do the same, the federal health minister says. … Canada has already announced its contribution — $785 million (Canadian) over three years — which is a 20 percent increase over its previous donation of $650 million…” (Picard, 7/24).

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Large South African Study Shows Challenges Of Treatment As Prevention

Science: Large study spotlights limits of HIV treatment as prevention
“One of the great unknowns in HIV/AIDS research is how much prevention bang you get for your treatment buck. Yes, antiretroviral (ARV) drugs make individuals less infectious, but how many people have to be on treatment to slow spread in a community and even bring epidemics to an end? A giant new study in South Africa failed to show any reduction in HIV transmission in communities even when nearly 50 percent of infected people received the drugs…” (Cohen, 7/25).

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Small Risk Of Zika Infection Among Olympic Games Visitors, Up To 1.65M Women Of Childbearing Age In Americas At Risk Of Disease, Studies Project

ABC News: Zika Virus Infection Risks Calculated for Pregnant Women, Olympic Attendees in New Studies
“…Two studies published [Monday] help shed light on the virus that the World Health Organization has called a ‘global health emergency.’ Yale researchers modeled the risk for people attending the Olympics and found only a small chance that those visiting Rio de Janerio for the Olympics would contract the virus. … Another modeling study published [Monday] investigated how many pregnant women either had been infected or are likely to be infected by the end of the recent Zika outbreak…” (Mohney, 7/25).

Agence France-Presse: Olympic travelers face tiny risk of Zika: U.S. study
“…Under a worst-case scenario, just three to 37 of the up to 500,000 people expected to go to Rio de Janeiro for the games, which start next month, could be expected to come down with Zika, said the report by the Yale University School of Public Health…” (Sheridan, 7/25).

The Guardian: Zika virus risk at Rio Olympics ‘negligible,’ says Yale report
“…The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was carried out to assess the risk in the light of calls from 150 academics for the Olympics to be moved from Rio or called off. Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health, however, said the risk was negligible…” (Boseley, 7/25).

Reuters: Up to 1.65 million women of childbearing age at risk for Zika
“As many as 1.65 million women of childbearing age in Central and Latin America are at risk of being infected with Zika, resulting in tens of thousands of pregnancies that could be affected by the mosquito-borne virus that is linked with severe birth defects. The projections, published on Monday in Nature Microbiology, are based on an enhanced model of the Zika outbreak…” (Steenhuysen, 7/25).

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Private Donations For Zika Response Not Forthcoming, U.S. News Reports

U.S. News & World Report: Where Are the Private Donations for Zika?
“When Ebola was drawing international headlines and alarming global health officials, several of the most famous U.S. billionaires came forward to offer financial support. … But that same outpouring of cash isn’t happening with Zika…” (Leonard, 7/25).

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CDC Updates Zika Virus Transmission, Testing Guidelines Amid New Findings

ABC News: Zika Virus Guidelines Updated for Pregnant Women in Wake of New Findings
“Pregnant women should be tested for the Zika virus with 14 days of suspected exposure to the virus or if they exhibit viral symptoms, according to updated guidelines issued today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…” (Mohney, 7/25).

Reuters: U.S. health officials update Zika transmission and testing guidance
“U.S. health officials issued updated recommendations for preventing and testing for Zika infection on Monday, warning that the virus can be transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected female partner. Previously, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other experts, believed that the virus could only be sexually transmitted by males because it can reside in semen potentially for several months…” (Berkrot, 7/25).

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Colombian Health Officials Announce End Of Zika Epidemic As New Case Numbers Fall

The Guardian: Colombia declares end to Zika epidemic as spread of virus levels off
“Colombia has declared an end to its Zika epidemic with the spread of the virus leveling off in the country after infecting nearly 100,000 people — even as it continues to sweep through other areas of Latin America, and is keeping some athletes away from the Olympic Games in Brazil…” (Brodzinsky, 7/25).

New York Times: Colombia Declares End to the Zika Epidemic
“…The Zika virus, which causes an illness related to dengue and is spread by mosquitoes, has infected roughly 100,000 Colombians and is linked to more than 20 cases of microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads…” (Casey, 7/25).

Reuters: Colombia declares end to Zika epidemic inside country
“Colombian health officials declared on Monday that the worst of a Zika outbreak in the Andean nation had passed just 10 months after its arrival, raising questions about how the virus is affecting parts of Latin America differently…” (Cobb, 7/25).

Washington Post: Colombia declares its Zika epidemic over
“…Colombian health officials say the number of new infections in their country is falling by more than 600 a week, meaning that the virus has moved into an ‘endemic’ phase in which it continues to circulate but is no longer spreading pervasively…” (Miroff, 7/25).

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Brazil Researchers To Examine Possible Co-Factors In Zika-Related Birth Defects

Nature: Brazil asks whether Zika acts alone to cause birth defects
“Government researchers in Brazil are set to explore the country’s peculiar distribution of Zika-linked microcephaly — babies born with abnormally small heads. Zika virus has spread throughout Brazil, but extremely high rates of microcephaly have been reported only in the country’s northeast. Although evidence suggests that Zika can cause microcephaly, the clustering pattern hints that other environmental, socioeconomic, or biological factors could be at play…” (Butler, 7/25).

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U.S. Science Envoy Peter Hotez Discusses How Links Between Disease, Conflict Could Affect U.S. Policy In Middle East

National Interest: How War and Crisis Help Spread Diseases Like Zika
“In 2009, President Barack Obama together with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the U.S. Science Envoy Program following a landmark ‘new beginnings’ speech in Cairo. [Journalist Kip Whittington] sat down with the White House and State Department U.S. science envoy, Dr. Peter J. Hotez, to highlight how links between disease and conflict could affect U.S. Middle East policy in the coming years…” (7/25).

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WHO To Release New Viral Hepatitis Testing Guidelines In Recognition Of World Day

U.N. News Centre: U.N. health agency to launch new hepatitis testing guidelines ahead of World Day
“Ahead of World Hepatitis Day — observed annually on 28 July — the United Nations health agency has said it plans to release new testing guidelines for hepatitis B and C, among other action, in an attempt to encourage testing and reach the 95 percent of people who are not aware they are infected with the disease…” (7/25).

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Regulations, Governance Vital To Improving Access To Medicines, MSH Vice President Says In Devex Interview

Devex: How to maximize impact of access to medicines
“…As countries work to strengthen [health] systems, Dr. Douglas Keene, vice president of the pharmaceuticals & health technologies group at Management Sciences for Health, advises policymakers to first start by addressing existing regulations and governance. … Watch the full interview … for more insights on why strengthening governance is key for creating greater access to medicines and what should be on the the radar of every global health professional in the coming years…” (Umuhumuza, 7/25).

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Cancer Patients In Uganda Face Late Diagnoses, Lack Of Treatment, IPS Reports

Inter Press Service: Uganda Ill-Equipped for Growing Cancer Burden
“…While the East African country had huge success in the battle against the HIV virus in the 1990s, cervical and other cancers are the new health crises gripping the developing nation. One in 500 Ugandans suffers from cancer. But only five percent of patients will get any form of treatment, facing an often tortuous death. … In Uganda, cancer is usually diagnosed quite late, due to poor screening and lack of health services. According to the country’s Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI), 80 percent of sufferers die because of late diagnosis…” (Fallon, 7/25).

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Condom Policies In China Hinder HIV Prevention Efforts Among Sex Workers, Report Says

Thomson Reuters Foundation: China’s condom policies to prevent HIV fail to protect sex workers: research
“Chinese police cracking down on sex workers routinely look for condoms as evidence of illegal activity, hindering efforts to prevent the spread of HIV among sex workers, one of the biggest at-risk groups in the country, experts said. … China provides free condoms for people living with HIV and allocates funds each year to buy condoms for distribution among at-risk populations, including sex workers, it said. At the same time, police are authorized to crack down on sex work, which is illegal in China, and use condom seizure as its main tactic, Asia Catalyst said in a report…” (Tang, 7/25).

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Pit Toilets In India Could Be Contaminating Drinking Water Sources

The Guardian: A toilet or safe drinking water? The stark choice facing many people in rural India
“…The Swains, with their tiny toilet, which empties into a leach pit — a hole in the ground used to compost feces when there is no sewage system — are the face of progress. There is a problem, however. The leach pit is next to the household’s drinking-water source, a tube well. Water so close to a leach pit is vulnerable to contamination from fecal germs, since bacteria, viruses, and protozoa can travel through soil. Worse, when the monsoon comes and the Mahanadi [river] overruns its banks, the groundwater levels in Aaruha rise, making the contamination worse. The Swains’ toilet could actually be a health risk…” (Pulla, 7/25).

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Editorials and Opinions

Members Of Congress Failed To Acknowledge Threat Of Zika In U.S.

Wall Street Journal: Zika Funding: What If Political Gridlock Isn’t Why Congress Hasn’t Acted?
Ron Klain, external adviser to the Skoll Global Threats Fund

“How did something that should have been uncontroversial — relatively modest funding to fight a new infectious disease in the U.S. — become so hard that Congress left Washington for the summer (mosquito season) without passing legislation to combat the Zika virus? … The obvious answer — that our gridlocked political system cannot complete even the simplest task — does not fully explain things. … The largest factor appears to be lawmakers’ failure to appreciate the risk Zika poses. … Zika is easily underestimated because symptoms are not obvious, and the most grave health consequence … occur months in the future. … If this were not enough to spur action, three developments in the past week suggest new cause for alarm. Transmission of the disease by mosquitoes appears to be occurring in Florida. … An explosion in cases in Puerto Rico — the first U.S. area to be hit by Zika — shows how rapidly Zika can escalate if left unchecked. … Evidence is mounting that Zika can be sexually transmitted, not merely transferred by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. … If we take aggressive steps now to fight Zika, we may never find out just how bad it might have been. … We do not know how many cases of Zika will happen on U.S. shores. But members of Congress who believe that action is not needed because Zika is not serious or a threat to all parts of our nation are making a miscalculation that stands to have consequences for years to come” (7/25).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

CDC Continues To Support Global Efforts To Eliminate Viral Hepatitis

CDC’s “Our Global Voices”: Think NoHep this World Hepatitis Day
Ahead of World Hepatitis Day, which takes place annually on July 28, John W. Ward, director of CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis, discusses CDC’s global efforts to control viral hepatitis, including the agency’s support for the implementation of the WHO Global Hepatitis Program. Ward writes, “CDC is committed to continue working toward the elimination of viral hepatitis, both domestically and abroad. The viral hepatitis epidemic has detrimental impact on lives, communities, and health systems around the world. CDC and our global health partners need to act now in order to to make the elimination of viral hepatitis our next greatest achievement” (7/25).

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Speakers At Wilson Center Conference Discuss Connection Between Women's Health, Climate Change

Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program’s “New Security Beat”: At the Eye of the Storm: Women and Climate Change
Aimee Jakeman, intern for the Wilson Center’s Maternal Health Initiative, discusses remarks made by speakers at a Wilson Center conference on women and climate change. The speakers highlighted the connections among women’s health, family planning, reproductive health, and climate change (7/26).

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'Science Speaks' Continues Coverage Of Presentations Given At AIDS 2016 Conference

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: AIDS 2016: As the largest generation in history approaches greatest HIV risks, Gates discusses the magnitude of the work ahead
Reporting from the AIDS 2016 conference in Durban, Antigone Barton, senior editor and writer of “Science Speaks,” summarizes an event during which Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discussed the progress toward ending and magnitude of the global HIV epidemic (7/25).

Center for Global Health Policy’s “Science Speaks”: AIDS 2016: SEARCH for HIV, links to care outstrips UNAIDS goals in two years
Barton discusses the results of the SEARCH study, an ongoing trial in Kenya and Uganda that examines the impact of bringing HIV and other health diagnostic tests and treatments to communities without access. She writes, “By the end of two years of the SEARCH study approach, [the 90-90-90] goal had been met and exceeded across all categories with 97 percent of those with HIV diagnosed, 94 percent on treatment, and 90 percent with suppressed viruses” (7/25).

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