Catching up: TB talk show, Addictophobia, the gap between sex worker data and reality, and the first to go

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In the lull following AIDS 2012, Science Speaks is catching up on reading — and watching — pieces that came out in the days before and during the conference.

Tuberculosis and HIV: Protecting the Vulnerable: “People fear TB more than HIV,” says a young Ugandan woman who survived the disease and now works with young people to address the ignorance and stigma around it. She is one of the panelists in this special talk show produced by the Stop TB Partnership and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies examining how an ancient and now curable as well preventable disease can continue to kill more than a million people on a yearly basis. If you missed the show, it is online, and serves as both an education on the disease and addressable shortcomings in the response to it. Panelists include Dr. Krishna Jafa of PSI talking about her own experience with the disease — first as a patient, and then as a doctor in the field seeing the effects of gaps in physician training, and Dr. Jennifer Furin of Case Western Reserve discussing how complacency led to the disease being battled today with outdated and inadequate tools.

Towards combination HIV prevention for injection drug users: Addictophobia (a term coined in 1991, this article says, to describe an exaggerated fear of or aversion to people who use illicit drugs), apathy, and inattention to people whose poverty and youth make them easy to ignore — all are named here as some of the reasons breakthroughs in prevention aren’t being applied where they would have some of their greatest impact: among people who inject drugs. The article highlights the need for programs that realistically address the needs of people who use drugs with combination prevention that includes needle and syringe exchange, opioid substitutes, access to preexposure preventive medicines, as well as testing and treatment.

Burden of HIV among female sex workers: By all criteria — concurrent sexual partnerships, exposure to sexual violence, barriers to health services and more — sex workers face greatly higher odds than average of getting HIV. But about two-thirds of low and middle income countries do not have accurate and current data on the prevalence of HIV among sex workers, this analysis found. As a result, critical services are not funded and planned where needed.

The First to Go: How Communities are being affected by the Global Fund Crisis – The Global Funds cancellation of its last expected round of funding came at a pivotal time in southern Africa, this report from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) says.  Examining the impacts of the cancellation of Round 11 on efforts in Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, the report says support for civil society efforts was the first to go, but also notes that the cancellation had system wide impacts and lost opportunities. In Malawi, the report says, most patients remained on substandard medicine, although the government had planned to switch to safer treatments. In Swaziland where 45 percent of the children are considered to be orphaned or affected by AIDS, school feeding programs face closure, while clinics run without clerks to handle monitoring, evaluation and reporting. In Zimbabwe, gaps in treatment are predicted, “a blow,” the report notes, “to a country looking to take advantage of recent research showing the effectiveness of treatment as prevention.” All were poised, for the round that didn’t happen, to address structural drivers of the epidemic affecting the most marginalized and affected people. “The Global Fund’s lack of predictability poses a major challenge,” the report says.

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