World AIDS Day: We’re reading about history, progress, gaps, and the costs of inequities

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NewWWRThe AIDS.gov Timeline of HIV/AIDS, first posted in 2011 and updated since, is  a good place to go for a look at the winding path of recognition and response to HIV. From the announcement of the “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals” to the formation of the first community based response of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and the first Congressional hearing launched by Rep. Henry Waxman,  to the launching of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and U.S. National AIDS Strategy, to scientific strides across treatment and prevention fronts, it spells out the costs of inaction, the lessons gleaned, and the examples of the early and ongoing champions.

The Latest Global Results update from U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief gives numbers — of those accessing testing, treatment and prevention services that include medical circumcision — and also puts them in perspective with the results of surveys conducted across Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe breaking down the impacts of these interventions across age groups and highlighting the continuing need to reach young people.

We will need proven policies, new resolve, and equity to make AIDS history is HIVMA chair Wendy Armstrong’s take on the work ahead to control HIV domestically and globally in the wake of an election that, she writes, “has raised more questions than answers about the future of equitable access to health care in this country.” Dr. Armstrong, who also is former co-chair of the Fulton County Task Force on HIV/AIDS, contrasts the successes in bringing down rates of new infections in some parts of the United States, while the epidemic remains rooted in inequitable access to jobs, housing, and healthcare in the Southeastern states where 52 percent of new infections occur. She cites the strides against the pandemic made by PEPFAR, and notes, “We know that stigma, discrimination, and laws that punish and marginalize sexual minorities and people who inject drugs have fueled the epidemic.”

Making The Children of Key Populations A Priority For Equitable Development outlines some of the ways to reach people left behind, in this case populations considered “key” to reach, including sex workers, sexual minorities and people who use drugs, because their risks are high and their access to services, even for their children are minimal. This piece by Lisa Bohner and Noreen Huni, chair and co-chair of Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS recommends investing in and designing services for the families of marginalized people, taking on the bias and discrimination facing them, and addressing laws and policies to improve their children’s protections.

Tanzania suspends U.S.-funded AIDS programs in a new crackdown on gays tells how great the risks remain — and are being realized —  of losing ground of HIV responses, health and human rights losing ground to backlash, intolerance, ideology and ignorance.

Preventing TB deaths among people living with HIV is the World Health Organization Global TB Programme’s update on responses to the combined impacts of HIV and TB, noting that tuberculosis caused a third of all AIDS-related deaths in 2015, and reiterating that universal access to testing and treatment for both diseases will be necessary to end the toll of the curable disease among people living with HIV.

Stuck in Neutral: Tracking the Global Response to HIV/AIDS, 2016 is the latest ONE report on the status of the actions and resources needed to end AIDS as a global public health threats. It finds both funding and rates of new infections stalled — raising the question if one went up, might the other go down? and treatment access increasing, but not fast enough. It concludes that the ways and means to contain and reverse the pandemic exist, but whether they will be used as needed remains a question.

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