Calling on Secretary Kerry, a primer on U.S. global health involvement, the AIDS fight on the ground, counterfeit condoms and more . . .

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Can John Kerry Fix the Administration’s AIDS Budget Problem? The Obama administration’s AIDS budget problem is one of choices that cancel each other out and erroneous perceptions, this piece by Matthew Kavanagh says. The choices — last year the administration’s budget proposal cut funding for PEPFAR, but gave some of that money to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria, while still decreasing the AIDS budget overall to the tune of nearly $200 million. Rumors have it this year’s budget proposal will be similar, the piece says, but with less money also for the Global Fund. The problem, aside from less money to do more, this piece says, is that for the programs to work well, they must work together — and be robustly funded. And that’s where the false perceptions come in. While the cuts come with the implication that sacrifice is inevitable during these deficit reducing times, this piece points out that last year’s Global Fund budget represents just pennies in the federal budget — global health spending overall represents a fraction of a percent of the budget. The returns it gets, however, are paving the way to a turn in the road toward the eventual end of AIDS, when fewer people are infected with HIV than treated for it. That is the goal of the Blueprint to create an AIDS-free generation that outgoing Secretary of State Clinton released just before the last World AIDS Day, that spells out the steps to capitalize on the last decade of research and donor advances. This piece asks a question that the days ahead will answer: With more exposure to global AIDS-fighting efforts than any previous incoming Secretary of State — with the possible exception of the outgoing secretary — will Secretary Kerry influence the Obama administration to back policy with funding?

The U.S. Government Engagement in Global Health, A Primer: From PEPFAR to GHI to the recently opened GHD, the U.S. global health response has gone from an element of foreign aid to a pace-setter for worldwide humanitarian and development responses in recent years, and in the process has become as complicated as it is pivotal. With an overview of global health issues, as well as a breakdown of the agencies, financing and relationships constituting the responses,  this primer from the Kaiser Family Foundation lays a foundation that will be helpful to advocates, journalists, and anyone who wants to better understand how it all works. It also serves as a reference guide with lists of congressional committees, policies, resources, definitions, organizations and initiatives.

Uganda: Adopt Good Behaviour to Beat Our Health Burden: In the meantime, as policy makers talk of transitioning AIDS-fighting efforts to “country ownership,” the state of the fight on the ground remains confusing, as a roundup of news from Uganda indicates. While this opinion piece notes an increasing AIDS prevalence, a brief in the same newspaper on the same day headlined “Nation Hailed Over HIV Fight” quotes British politician Lord Norman Fowler praising the pace of Uganda’s HIV efforts saying “The call for abstinence, faithfulness and condom use has seen the number of HIV cases reduce in recent years,” while in the Kampala Independent, in a story headlined “Right Attitude Will Take You Places, Janet Museveni Counsels Youth” quotes a UNAIDS country director telling participants in a youth conference “Unless you behave, the HIV/AIDS prevalence will only rise.”

Zambia: Fake Condoms Influx Derail HIV/AIDS Fight: Counterfeited condom brands have “penetrated” the local market, “putting the lives of users at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections and HIV,” this article says. Aside from questionable theorizing, this item does make a point about problems of quality control in a fragile economy.

Malawi: Family Planning Key to Slowing Population Explosion: “My dream is to bring up a family that I can take care of without overburdening myself,” one mother of three says, in this story about lagging funding for family planning in a country with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.

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