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Archive for the ‘HIV/AIDS’ Category

The outcome of the Global Fund Replenishment meeting this week disappointed many. While it appears that the Fund might have enough to finance Round Ten, the next round of grant making, it is hard to see how it will be able to approve new grants that gain the approval of the Technical Review Panel.  That means a massive slowdown in the pace of the expansion of health programs, unless more pledges come in, a situation that was discussed this week on NPR’s Tell Me More.

In the lead up to the meeting, advocates in developing countries put together a smart new video calling on the donors to keep their promises:

Since the Fund is the main source of funding to address TB, including drug-resistant TB, the shortfall is especially worrisome.  (more…)

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Critical questions surrounding the performance and future of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) were publicly aired last week at a full-committee House Foreign Affairs hearing.

Government witnesses included U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, MD; head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, MD; and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thomas Frieden, MD. (click on links to view testimony).

Drs. Eric Goosby (left), Thomas Frieden (center) and Anthony Fauci testify in front of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

They presented detailed updates on PEPFAR and U.S. backing for the Global Fund, while civil society witnesses, Ms. Paula Akugizibwe of the AIDS & Rights Alliance of Southern Africa and Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, of Columbia University’s International Centers for AIDS Treatment and Prevention Programs (ICAP), each gave an impassioned plea for greater financial support in the run up to this week’s Global Fund Replenishment meeting.  Dr. El-Sadr sits on the Center’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

A notable feature of the U.S. government’s testimony was the strong endorsement of the role of treatment in preventing new HIV infections. (more…)

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3pm – Just announced: The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is now the first patent-holder to share intellectual property with the Medicines Patent Pool. The pool is a recently-established initiative – funded by UNITAID – to expand access to treatments in developing countries. The announcement is here.

Ken Mayer – co-chair of the Center’s Scientific Advisory Committee – has a review article on the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) as HIV prevention in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Public Health. In it, he and co-author Kartik Venkatesh, PhD, discuss the status and prospects for successful use of ART in decreasing HIV transmission globally.

Plan USA released the video above as part of its “Because I Am a Girl” campaign, which focuses this year on how the digital world impacts women and girls. Kate Darlington gives a good overview of the report and campaign at Change.org, relating it to the increasing focus on women and girls as the key to reducing poverty and disease. The report, called “Digital and Urban Frontiers: Girls in a Changing Landscape,” is available through Plan USA [PDF].

HIV infection in Ukraine continues to spread, with the government doing little to intervene. David L. Stern at GlobalPost writes that the ex-Soviet republic has an estimated 360,000 people living with AIDS or HIV.

CAPRISA researchers – who released news of a groundbreaking vaginal gel that would give women the power to protect themselves from HIV this summer – are struggling to find funding (more…)

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Wednesday morning, September 29, the controversy over the Obama approach to funding AIDS programs will get a full airing during a congressional hearing on U.S. global AIDS policy. 

At 9:30 a.m., the House Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing entitled “PEPFAR: From Emergency to Sustainability and Advances Against HIV/AIDS,”  in room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Be sure to tune in to the live webcast Wednesday at 9:30am ET! 

A number of tough issues will be discussed, including how countries will be able to expand access to prevention of mother to child transmission if major donors slow down the pace of their aid.  One of the witnesses, Paula Akugizibwe of the AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (ARASA), has emerged as a young, eloquent leader of civil society in Africa.  She has made a priority of defending human rights, combating stigma about AIDS and TB, and calling on both African and donor governments to keep their promises. 

Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, director of the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) will be speaking as a major PEPFAR implementer.  She will be discussing how AIDS programs are essential for better maternal and child health. Dr. El-Sadr serves on the Center for Global Health Policy’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

The first panel of witnesses will include U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Eric Goosby, MD; Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony S. Fauci, MD; and Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Thomas Frieden, MD. 

You can watch the hearing live on this
website (look to the lower left of the page). Please note that the recording of the hearing will not be archived, it will only be posted for live viewing.

The written testimony will also be posted on the House Foreign Affairs Committee website

The Global Health Council submitted questions to the committee on behalf of its membership, highlighting key issues to keep track of during the hearing including prevention of mother-to-child transmission and violence against women and girls.

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Eleven current and former Fogarty International and Doris Duke clinical research fellows made their way to Capitol Hill Thursday for congressional office visits with key legislators.

Four Fogarty fellows and the Center's Christine Lubinski meet with a staff member from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The Center for Global Health Policy staff escorted the group to meetings with the offices of 15 policymakers. The fellows highlighted their research experience abroad through the Fogarty and Doris Duke programs, the first of which is funded through the National Institutes of Health, emphasizing the value of U.S. investment in global HIV and tuberculosis programs.

The Fogarty International and Doris Duke clinical research fellowships send medical students and young physicians with an interest in global health to sites in the developing world to perform a year of hands-on clinical research training. The U.S. fellows who participated in the Hill visits had spent their year abroad either in Uganda, South Africa, Thailand or Malawi. Their research projects ranged from monitoring antiretroviral treatment adherence among female South African patients with the use of text messaging and SMS, to evaluating treatment outcomes for Kaposi’s sarcoma patients undergoing combination chemotherapy for advanced or persistent disease in Malawi.

The Fogarty program, which started in 2003, uses what is called “twinning” to match the visiting U.S. scholars with in-country medical students and physicians, helping the fellows to integrate into the system more quickly.  Four foreign nationals joined in the day of Hill meetings. These fellows hailed from South Africa, Kenya, Zambia and Peru.

The scholars brought various issues to the table when meeting with legislators, like the linkages between HIV and cancer risks and the impact of HIV on maternal and child health.. They also spoke about the intrinsic value of international physician fellowship programs, which support U.S. foreign assistance by increasing the training of in-country physicians and building health infrastructure abroad. They also support the treatment and research education of U.S. doctors that take what they learn abroad and bring it back to improve patient care in the U.S., including a new awareness of how to treat refugees and new immigrants from other countries.

“These experiences broaden how doctors will approach patient care and the ethos of training,” said Doris Duke fellow Andrea Dean, a medical student at Brown University who spent her fellowship year in South Africa.

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Dr. Robert Hecht is Principal and Managing Director at Results for Development Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works on health, development, and education issues.

Dr. Robert Hecht is Principal and Managing Director at Results for Development Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works on health, development, and education issues. He is editor of the just-published “Costs and Choices: Financing the Long-Term Fight Against AIDS,” an aids2031 project.

Hecht spoke with John Donnelly about the recent UNAIDS report that showed HIV prevalence declined by at least 25 percent in 22 countries in sub Saharan Africa over the last decade.

Q: What do these findings tell you?

A: It tells me that the rate of new infections is starting to come down in a number of countries from frightening high levels in the past. It means that some of the things we are doing in prevention are starting to have an impact. At the same time, looking at the other side of the coin, looking at infections that continue to accrue, it suggests a lot more needs to be done to go further in order to have significant HIV reduction. What it means is, until we make a further dent on the prevention side and stopping people from becoming infected, we are setting up a situation in the future where we are adding to the numbers of the people who need to be cared for and who need to be put on treatment. Those numbers of people continue to grow.

Q: What’s working in prevention that would account for the 25 percent drop? (more…)

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In the lead up to this week’s MDG Summit, health experts discussed integration of HIV/AIDS programs with other health programs at a special event in Washington, DC.  David Hoos, MD, of Columbia University’s International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP), one of the largest PEPFAR implementers, spoke on the panel, which was sponsored by the Global Health Council and partners, including the IDSA/HIVMA Center for Global Health Policy.

The springboard for the discussion was a showing of an excerpt of a new film by the company Vestergaard-Frandsen, called “The Test.” The film captures a testing campaign they launched in Kenya to massively scale up HIV testing in the Western Kenyan district of Kakamega, in September, 2008.  The company stated that, “By conducting an HIV test for more than 49,000 people, the campaign demonstrated that it is possible for Kenya to reach its national goal of having 80 percent of adults know their HIV status.”

The company has posted a trailer of the film and background information on a special website.   The campaign was also discussed in more detail in a recent PLoS ONE article. (more…)

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