AIDS Conference speakers, a petition, a report looks at AIDS goals

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Conference program online: The program for the July 22-27 International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC is online, listing, among the speakers: Bills Clinton and Gates, Elton John, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, and, by video, Myanmar democracy leader and parliament member Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Conference organizers say about 25,000 people will attend the conference. The conference, which will focus on research showing that HIV treatment can slow the spread of the epidemic, other promising science, along with changes and challenges to global spending on health is expected to bring at least 700 journalists from around the world. The theme: “Turning the tide together.” The first International AIDS Conference was held 1985 in Atlanta, Ga, and drew 2,000 participants. The last in the U.S. was held in San Francisco in 1990.

A petition: One, a nonprofit organization fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease in the world’s poorest countries has posted an online petition asking congress to reverse planned funding cuts to the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, and to fulfill United States commitments to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Organizers plan to time delivery of the petition to Congressional leaders around the July 22-27 International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC.

UNAIDS report talks about aiming money at goals: After UNAIDS announced a panel discussion in Luxembourg organized by Malawi and Luxembourg missions to examine the investments needed in the global AIDS response, we looked at the UNAIDS report in which challenges to the goals set for the next few years were set out. The report — United to end AIDS: achieving the targets of the 2011 Political Declaration – lays out the obstacles and answers to goals to deliver antiretroviral medicine to 15 million people, eliminate new infections in children, substantially reduce maternal AIDS-related deaths, cut the number of sexually transmitted and injection drug transmissions in half and close funding gaps. The report says to meet the goals, efforts must focus on structural, behavioral, and medical interventions, including addressing discriminatory neglect and punitive laws. It cites needs to introduce needle exchange and substitute drug programs in countries that remain without them and working to end discriminatory laws, violence and neglect. It says family planning, health services and effective antiretroviral medicine to women of childbearing age are essential for an AIDS-free generation. It points to the need for improvements in access to less toxic antiretroviral medicines, access to treatment in conflict areas, ensuring that testing for HIV and appropriate counseling are linked, and the elimination to financial barriers to care. And, it says, from $22 billion and $24 billion will be needed yearly by 2015 to close the gap between what is being spent and what needs to be spent to realize the possibilities offered by science.

A first for female protection research: The Ring Study, testing the safety and effectiveness of a vaginal ring releasing the antiretroviral dapivirine over a month to prevent HIV infection in women, is enrolling participants at four sites in South Africa, and is expecting to test the ring at additional sites in Rwanda and Malawi for clinical trials of a total enrollment of 1,650 women, the International Partnership for Microbicides announced. If effective the ring would give women a discreet way to protect themselves from infection which would address challenges to consistent use encountered in earlier microbicide studies.

Kenyan couples show possibilities of antiretroviral prevention strategies: Research on Kenyan couples with discordant HIV status showed that understanding and responding to individual’s preferences in using antiretroviral medicine to prevent transmission will be vital to the effectiveness of the strategy. The study, of 181 couples, examined individuals’ willingness to use antiretroviral medicine to lower chances of HIV transmission when one partner  is living with the virus and the other is not. Study participants were given the hypothetical choice of the uninfected partner taking antiretroviral medicine to help protect themselves against infection, or the infected partner  beginning antiretroviral medicine before medically necessary to lower the risk of transmitting infection – both of which have been shown effective in reducing transmission. While nearly 40 percent of those living with HIV with an uninfected partner expressed reluctance to start treatment early, while 90 percent of uninfected partners said they would be willing to take antiretroviral medicine as a pre-exposure protection strategy on a long term basis.

Guide examines gap between policies and practices for people who inject drugs: The Health Policy Project and the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network has put out Policy Analysis and Advocacy Decision Model for People who Inject Drugs, a guide to identify policies that run counter to best practices and human rights when examining barriers to services for a marginalized population.




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