What we’re reading: World AIDS Day messages with urgency every day, and more

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Progress toward ending the HIV epidemic is challenged by threats to ACA – In a timely call for accountability, Chair of the HIV Medicine Association Dr. Melanie Thompson describes here how political battles to undermine the Affordable Care Act also undermine resources needed to win the war against HIV at home. Dr. Thompson, who also serves as principal investigator of AIDS Research at the Consortium of Atlanta — an epicenter of the American HIV epidemic — details the critical role that access to health services plays for all people in not only protecting and extending the lives of people living with HIV, but also in preventing the spread of the virus. This piece was written and posted the day before the Senate approved a tax bill that would eliminate the ACA’s individual mandate, putting health coverage further out of reach for many Americans — a proposal not included in the House-passed tax bill. As lawmakers work to reconcile the two bills, this piece remains essential reading.

Let’s work with urgency to battle this disease – The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief was launched as a humanitarian response at a time when much less was known about actions that could control and ultimately end the pandemic, the authors of this World AIDS Day piece note. They should know — former Senate Majority Leader, and physician Bill Frist, and UNAIDS leader Michel Sidibe have been involved in global AIDS responses from their ambitious beginnings. In the years since, they note, those responses turned the trajectory of the pandemic, changed the course of global health partnerships, and put the end of AIDS in reach. Now, at a time when White House proposals threaten the funding and strategies that accomplished this much, the authors call for renewed resolve, increased investments, and redoubled efforts on the ground.

World’s largest HIV prevention trial wraps up door-to-door testing – As a fourth year of door-to-door health services across communities in Cape Town and South Africa’s Winelands region drew to a close, the people who provided those services wrote about what they had accomplished: “We have lost friends and family because of you, HIV and TB. But now, HIV and TB, you are losing.” The writers are CHIPS — Community HIV Care Providers — who through the HPTN PopART trial increased health, knowledge and capacities across their communities. The project, also carried out across Zambia, is funded by  the U.S. Centers for Disease Control through PEPFAR. Reaching about a million people across the two countries, the trial has yielded strategies that have linked previously marginalized people — including men and boys — into care for HIV and TB. In the PEPFAR strategy outlined by the White House though, those lessons will be lost — South Africa, with an estimated 270,000 new HIV infections and 110,000 AIDS related deaths last year, is not among the planned 13 “focus” countries targeted for epidemic control.

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