World AIDS Day – A special what we’re reading

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Below is a list of notable opinion pieces and statements released on and around World AIDS DAY (Dec. 1):

Act Now to Suppress AIDS Spread: Drs Kathleen Squires and Rafael Campo laud recent advances in HIV prevention research and urge new and continuing congressional members to take up the cause of supporting HIV/AIDS treatment and care programs in the new Congress in an opinion editorial that appeared in Wednesday’s Miami Herald.

America’s Global Fight Against AIDS:  The Washington Post hosted an editorial by Pres. George W. Bush.  He reminded readers of his leadership in signing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) into law, and reminded them of the important role foreign aid plays in national security.

New PEPFAR Numbers: The State Department released updated numbers for the PEPFAR program on World AIDS Day, to include: the U.S. is directly supporting life-saving antiretroviral treatment (ART) for more than 3.2 million men, women and children worldwide as of Sept. 30, 2010, up from less than 2.5 million in 2009; the U.S. has committed to directly support more than four million people on treatment in the next few years; and PEPFAR has supported ART for prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV for more than 600,000 HIV-positive pregnant women in fiscal year 2010.

The White House released it’s annual World AIDS Day proclamation on Wednesday, citing many of the PEPFAR numbers above. The statement notes intentions to “recommit to building on the great strides made in fighting HIV, to preventing the spread of the disease, to continuing our efforts to combat stigma and discrimination, and to finding a cure.” The piece also mentions as part of the administration’s dedication to reducing stigma, its recent elimination of a ban prohibiting those with HIV/AIDS from entering the U.S.

No Turning Back: Pursuing the promise of HIV prevention: Executive Director of AVAC Mitchell Warren wrote a blog post in the Huffington Post regarding the iPrEx trial results announced last week and stated that while we cannot ignore the potential of pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the challenges to its implementation are numerous. Warren discusses the challenges and next steps forward in this piece.

Why AIDS First?: The Huffington Post also hosted opinions by Dr. Mark Dybul and Michael Gerson, former Global AIDS Coordinator and former policy advisor to George W. Bush respectively, in an opionion editorial. The piece counters arguments that PEPFAR money would have been better spent on less costly issues such as clean water initiatives and strengthening health systems in general. “Men and women living in the shadow of death are less likely to invest in education, plant for the next season or start a business, and more likely to embrace radicalism and violence,” the piece reports, and gives other reasons that AIDS needed to be addressed as a priority.

UNAIDS also recently released a 30-second video, which reveals the statistic that 7,000 people every day are infected with HIV, and calling for an “HIV Prevention Revolution.”

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