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Op-Eds On World AIDS Day: Research, Funding, Hunger, Uganda

To Find AIDS Cure, Ensure NIH Funding

The “National Institutes of Health – perhaps our best hope for funding a cure for AIDS – has been underfunded since 2003,” Kate Krauss, director of the AIDS Policy Project, writes in a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece. “To cure AIDS, funding must be available for promising research projects on a continuing basis … AIDS advocates are calling for the NIH to be funded at $35 billion next year and $40 billion the following year so that the new projects funded by stimulus money can be continued. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has made a good start by designating some funding for viral eradication research, but this project and its funding must be made permanent,” according to Krauss.

“It comes down to both money and vision – the vision to imagine a world where people in Philadelphia and Cape Town are lining up at clinics not for their monthly allotment of AIDS medication, but for the last AIDS drug they will ever need,” she concludes (12/1).

Sustain Commitment HIV/AIDS Funding

“Worldwide AIDS infection rates are curving down. … But with modest success go challenges,” according to a San Francisco Chronicle editorial. “In public health politics, the AIDS fight is too successful for its own good, making the effort a target in the competition for funding. It would be a mistake to buy this argument in total and cut AIDS spending to pay for a new fight in other areas,” according to the editorial, which adds, “There’s no question that new health fights lie ahead, but hobbling a successful crusade isn’t good policy.” According to the newspaper, “Other diseases badly need attention. But the fight against AIDS should not be sacrificed. The battle is still far from over” (12/1).

Response To HIV Should Consider Hunger

“Although there have been great improvements in treatment and care for people living with HIV in many countries, death due to HIV and AIDS-related illness in the world’s poorest countries remains unjustifiably high,” Breda Gahan, Concern Worldwide’s global HIV and AIDS programme adviser, writes in an Irish Times opinion piece. Gahan highlights global hunger as a “major contributing factor” and examines how rising food prices and food shortages exacerbate the situation for HIV-positive people and contribute to death. She notes, “With effective interventions, both hunger and HIV are very preventable public health problems.”

“The 2006 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS – unanimously adopted by 192 member states in New York – committed to integrating food and nutritional support into the responses to HIV and AIDS,” Gahan writes. But, “[t]imely delivery on the … Declaration is being compromised by the global food, fuel and international financial crises,” according to Gahan. “Programming of livelihood interventions that take into account issues of poverty, gender inequality, food insecurity and nutrition at [the] household level are essential in the response to HIV and AIDS,” she concludes (12/1).

Time For U.S. To Take Global Health Commitment To ‘New Level’

Steve Gloyd, executive director of Health Alliance International, and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), write in a Seattle Times opinion piece that U.S. global health efforts “should look to the global response to HIV/AIDS to inspire us.” Though President Barack Obama’s six year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative is “laudable … we cannot make advances in some areas at the expense of people living with HIV. We must fulfill our promises to those whose lives and futures depend on daily antiretrovirals. This means carrying through with the authorizations Congress made last year to fight AIDS, as well as tuberculosis and malaria.”

Gloyd and McDermott write that it is “time to take our commitment to a new level. In addition to working to equip labs and clinics and train a work force to treat and care for those living with HIV, we must work to strengthen primary health care across the board, ensuring that all people have the care they need, whether for HIV, or prenatal care, or pneumonia. AIDS funding has contributed to health-system improvements and better health outcomes for other diseases, but more is necessary” for global health efforts, according to Gloyd and McDermott. They call for “ten cents out of every $100” produced by the U.S. economy to “get the job done” (11/30).  

U.S. To Support Uganda’s Fight Against HIV/AIDS

“We cannot succeed in this fight against HIV/AIDS alone, and America is committed to working with our global partners to support Uganda’s leadership in this effort,” Jerry Lanier, the U.S. ambassador to Uganda, writes in a New Vision opinion piece.

“Over the next five years, the U.S. will place a renewed emphasis on partnering with Uganda to build Uganda’s national HIV/AIDS response. … And America will support the Government as it engages international partners, civil society and non-governmental organisations. PEPFAR will also support Uganda’s leadership as it works to make universal access a reality,” Lanier writes. As part of the President Barack Obama’s Global Health Initiative, “PEPFAR will support Uganda as it works to further integrate and expand access to other health care services, such as those that address tuberculosis, malaria, maternal and child health and family planning with HIV/AIDS programmes” (11/30).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.