Making PEPFAR – By rolling out large scale HIV treatment and prevention programs in countries that lacked resources to take on the global epidemic on their own, PEPFAR reversed a trend of sinking life expectancies “and likely saved some countries — even an entire continent — from economic ruin,” Harold Varmus writes in this essay, published Dec. 1 on Science and Diplomacy. And yet, he notes, few people, even friends of his who he thinks are knowledgeable about world affairs “know what the term PEPFAR represents . . . let alone understand how successful the program has been and how it was conceived and carried out.” Even if you don’t have to have the term PEPFAR broken down for you, this look at how the historic response that became the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief is interesting, with unexpected points the exact recollection of which may be debatable, but which explain the broad support those who do know what PEPFAR stands for continues to provide.
Mourning the death of Andrew Hunter – While the Global Network of Sex Work Projects grieves the loss of founding member and President Andrew Hunter, the organization is collecting tributes and thoughts on his life and work for a memorial page, and asking they be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, UNAIDS has gratitude for his pioneering advocacy, and sadness at his loss, as has the Global Fund, Ruth Messinger of American Jewish World Services, and Alvaro Bermejo of the AIDS Alliance.
Life-saving hepatitis C drug approved, but cost is high – If a treatment for hepatitis C can achieve a 90 percent cure rate, but has a price tag that puts it out of the reach for the vast majority of people who will need it, how does the math work out? This Irin article looks at the push to make newly approved sofosbuvir accessible to patients in resource limited countries where HIV and hepatitis both take great tolls as well as in the middle-income countries that are home to 75 percent of the world’s poor.
New law a setback for Uganda’s HIV response – While whether Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill becomes law rests in the hands of President Yoweri Museveni, HIV treatment advocacy groups are weighing in on the harm it would do to the nation’s already faltering HIV response. At the same time, the country’s “state minister for ethics and integrity” is clarifying his priorities, with a statement “on the threats from donors and development to withdraw their financial assistance over this bill,” to which he says, “we don’t care and are not bothered at all. We prefer to lose that money than our culture and people.” That view of the choices at hand, more than a decade into the large scale global response to HIV that linked health and human rights would seem to indicate that what we have here has been, at the very least, a failure to communicate.