What we’re reading: The global gag rule gets a check-up, TB in India, and reconsidering HIV prevention

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Dear Secretary Tillerson – When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified before Congress last spring, he promised an examination in six months time of the Global Gag Rule, which, under a vast expansion under President Trump, lifts funding from foreign nongovernment organizations if they provide counseling, information, referrals or services to terminate pregnancies. We’ve heard nothing further from the State Department on that, but in July Human Rights Watch gave Sec. Tillerson a hand by interviewing representatives of 24 organizations in Kenya and Uganda where services were affected. Weakened health responses across the board, including in reproductive services, that endanger public and individual health were among the impacts of the ironically named Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy according to this letter on their findings.

TB in India: Rhetoric vs. Reality – In a little more than five years as United Nations Special Envoy on HIV and AIDS in Africa, AIDS-free World co-founder Stephen Lewis found that people working in community-based responses were likelier than government officials and politicians to deal in, and deliver hard realities, as he notes here. That’s why he went to India to witness first-hand the successes and failures of TB prevention and care in some of the most heavily burdened areas of one of the world’s hardest hit countries. He describes here the results of what he cites as 20 years of failure to respond to wide-spread and deeply rooted disease threats with adequate public health funding.

Reconsidering primary prevention of HIV – The long-repeated assertion that “we cannot treat our way to the end of AIDS,” will remain true as long as violence, discrimination and systemic marginalization continues to deny health service access to vulnerable populations, the author of this report notes. The report from MSMGF, and seven other organizations supporting the rights and interests of sexual minorities, people who inject drugs, people who earn income through sex work and people living with HIV, examines how approaches to prevention must respond to those, and other obstacles that include how funding is directed.

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