Laws that feed epidemics, responses to GHI news, and the DC Declaration

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Risks, Rights and Health: Laws that condemn men and women to “economic death,” that make illness grounds for punishment, encourage police brutality, keep health services out of reach, keep condoms out of prisons, clean needles out of the hands of injecting drug users and promote risks – these are some of the structures keeping the HIV epidemic going, as documented by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law. The 150-page report, with data gathered from around the world, includes charts showing the higher HIV rates in countries that criminalize homosexuality, sex work, HIV transmission and that deny basic human rights to women, children, migrants and prisoners. The report also looks at intellectual property laws, free trade agreements and access to medicine. It concludes that to defeat the epidemic, “the world and its laws must embrace and promote what every living person shares: the fragile, immensely potent human rights to equality, dignity and health.”

GHI announcement gets mixed reviews: Different takes on The Global Health Initiative’s when-one-door-closes- another-door-opens approach to announcing the end of its Washington, DC office included Council on Foreign Affairs Senior Fellow for Global Health Laurie Garrett’s retrospective and critical analysis “The Global Health Initiative is Dead: Long Live the U.S. Global Health Initiative!”, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) President Serra Sippel’s more optimistic “The U.S. Global Health Initiative and Diplomacy”, Center for Global Development’s Director of Global Health Policy Amanda Glassman and Rachel Silverman’s  “Failure to Launch: A Post-Mortem of GHI 1.0” which noted that “the GHI blog posted its own death notice — or at the very least, an admission of defeat in some of its most important, revolutionary ambitions,” and Foreign Policy writer Josh Rogin’s “Development Community upset over the future of Global Health Initiative” which cites “what administration sources described as a knock-down drag-out interagency fight between USAID and CDC.”  They are part of a range of perspectives indicating that the quiet announcement of what the initiative’s executive director Lois Quam had described as generally well-received news, cast more heat than light on the outlook for global health efforts.

The Washington D.C. Declaration: Whoopi Goldberg did it, and you can too — everyone invested in seeing an end to the AIDS epidemic can sign the Washington, DC Declaration, a document calling for global support for a 9-point action plan. The declaration calls for:

  • An increase in targeted new investments;
  • Evidence-based HIV prevention, treatment and care in accord with the human rights of those at greatest risk and in greatest need
  • An end to stigma, discrimination, legal sanctions and human rights abuses against those living with and at risk for HIV;
  • Marked increases in HIV testing, counseling and linkages to services;
  • Treatment for all pregnant and nursing women living with HIV and an end to peri-natal transmission;
  • Expanded access to antiretroviral treatment for all in need;
  • Identification, diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis (TB);
  • Accelerated research on new tools for HIV prevention, treatment, vaccines and a cure;
  • Mobilization and meaningful involvement of affected communities.

Posted at a list of who has signed so far is up, as well as the full text in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Swahili, Japanese, Hindi and Thai, and a place to sign. The statement is the official declaration of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC July 22-27.

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