Clinician scientists urge support for PEPFAR bill, while we’re reading about the high stakes of the U.S. global health response

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NewWWRUpdate – The PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Bill of 2013: In spite of the government shutdown, hopes were high in the beginning of the month that the Senate would take action on a bill to extend the the United States global AIDS response. Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders Robert Menendez and Bob Corker introduced S 1545 on Sept. 24, and with the government shutdown looming, the committee approved an amended version, with attention to HIV TB co-infection and health workforce strengthening, on Sept. 30. But with the shutdown since having sidelined staffers and heaped lawmakers’ plates with negotiations, action on the bill has slowed. Congressional sources say efforts to get a vote for bill on the Senate floor continue. The Center for Global Health Policy, which produces this blog, is urging support for the legislation, which 253 clinicians and scientists rallied behind, with this letter to Senate members. House Foreign Affairs Committee leaders Reps. Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, joined by Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen also have introduced an identical bill to the original version of S1545. With hopes rising today on an end to the shutdown, stay tuned to action on both PEPFAR bills.

The human toll: The Foundation for AIDS Research, amfAR has spelled out the human toll of potential sequestration budget cuts, updating its projections according to budget numbers since October 2011. On Oct. 1 the organization released its latest updated Impact of FY14 Budget Sequestration On US-Funded Global Health Programs. Comparing those funding levels to to the pre-sequestration FY2013 funding level, its estimates include that nearly 230,000 fewer people will be treated for HIV, leading to more than 52,000 deaths and more than 100,000 additional orphans. See the graphic for more on the impact to mother to child HIV transmission and tuberculosis treatment.

The Tipping Point: What would it take to end AIDS? Before anything else, it would mean reaching the point at which the epidemic’s retreat can be documented — the tipping point. That is the point at which the numbers initiating treatment for HIV exceeds the numbers of newly infected people. Comparing those two numbers yields a measurement of a country’s progress. This graphic from AVAC, in the centerfold of its latest Px Wire lays it out, showing success in reaching the tipping point ratio in countries that include Rwanda, Botswana, Ghana and Tanzania, and the reverse of the desired ratio in countries that include Nigeria, Mozambique, Kenya and Uganda.

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