Physicians call for research on ART initiation, Urging lawmakers to fund AIDS-free generation, and more

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When to Start in Africa – An Urgent Research Priority: In this opinion piece in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Kevin de Cock, Director of the CDC’s Center for Global Health, and Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, member of IDSA’s Center for Global Health Scientific Advisory Committee, make a strong case for more research to determine the best time to initiate ART in African patients.  Citing that there is a lack of conclusive data to back ART initiation guidelines, De Cock and El-Sadr call for a randomized, controlled trial to determine when to initiate ART in Africa for maximal individual health benefit.  “Uncertainty about ART is detrimental to the millions of people living with HIV infection. Early ART and deferred ART, each recommended and practiced depending on the setting, cannot both be the most favorable choice for individual health…With millions of people who require ART still not receiving it, billions of dollars invested in HIV–AIDS programs, and widespread discussion about extending ART use, too much is at stake to allow uncertainty about when to initiate ART to persist.”

Sec. Kerry Address at UVA Emphasizes Importance of Global Health: Newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry delivered his first official speech at the University of Virginia on Wednesday, emphasizing that impending budget cuts from the sequester will threaten U.S. foreign policy, including critical global health programs like the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).  “We seek to reduce maternal mortality, eradicate polio, and protect people from malaria, tuberculosis, and pandemic influenza. And I will tell you proudly that through the Global Health Initiative and programs that I was proud to have a hand in helping to create, like PEPFAR, we have saved the lives of 5 million people in Africa through the efforts of Americans. And today – today astonishingly – we are standing on the edge of the potential of an AIDS-free generation, because we know these diseases don’t discriminate by nationality, and we believe that relieving preventable suffering doesn’t need a justification. And I think that’s part of our values.” Click here to read the full transcript.

Tutu – End of AIDS a Worthy Legacy for Obama: In this piece in USA Today, Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown and honorary chair of Act V: The End of AIDS, calls on President Obama to catalyze the end of one of the world’s fiercest pandemics by fully funding PEPFAR and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria.  Citing his latest State of the Union address where President Obama stated that the promise of an AIDS-free generation is within our reach, and the Obama administration’s release of the PEPFAR Blueprint, Tutu wrote, “Now is not the time to pull back. We are in the endgame of AIDS and Obama can help the world triumph.  By adding the end of AIDS to his legacy, President Obama will be remembered fondly by all future generations, grateful that he helped spare them from unnecessary suffering and needless death.”

Obama Don’t Break Our Hearts: Students from the Yale University Chapter of the Student Global Health and AIDS Coalition joined with New Haven residents to urge President Obama and other lawmakers to stop AIDS by fully funding PEPFAR and the Global Fund.  In this video, students and residents ask the President to put funding behind his promise for an AIDS-free generation, and emphasize that just a five percent cut to PEPFAR would lead to over 60,000 preventable AIDS deaths.  Urge President Obama to commit resources to achieving an AIDS-free generation by signing the petition, spearheaded by global and domestic HIV advocacy organizations.

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