Ambassador Deborah Birx, on the Passage of the HIV Prevention and Control Act by the Ugandan Parliament – With more than three decades of experiences at home and abroad offering lessons, Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx responds to the Uganda Parliament’s new HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act, which criminalizes HIV transmission, mandates testing for some, and lifts patient confidentiality, noting “we have witnessed time and again how stigma discrimination, and fear — and the misguided policies that stem from them further fuel the epidemic . . .” She joins other organizations and individuals, including the HIV Medicine Association, and the Center for Global Health Policy, which produces this blog, in calling for rejection of the bill. Her concerns are also echoed by Ugandan news reports of fears of fallout from the law, including by AIDS support organization founder Noerine Kaleeba: “The ninth parliament has gone into a frenzy of passing bills. I think that they are enjoying it but I appeal to them to be responsible to citizens they represent.” Another article, by Key Correspondent Samuel Egadu Okiror, quotes the chairman of the Uganda Parliament Health Committee that prepared the bill, saying some members opposed the clause criminalizing transmission of HIV, adding, “However we were overpowered . . . Singling out HIV for criminalization will reactivate stigma and discrimination.”
Revitalizing the Fight against Homophobia in Africa – This report from Richard Downie of the Center for Strategic and International Studies pulls together contributing factors, failures, responses and strategies surrounding a rising tide of homophobic rhetoric and legislation in Africa. Reviewing widely discussed issues, it draws particular attention to the disparate responses to Nigeria’s and Uganda’s new anti-gay laws, as well as failures to see both laws coming, and inconsistent leadership and diplomacy that have weakened responses.
Leading HIV/AIDS groups endorse CDC HIV PrEP Guidelines – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidelines for oral Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis of HIV infection in the United States is cheered by 68 organizations focused on HIV and other health issues. While the guidelines and practical use of the guidelines are currently applicable to the United States, this recent Poverty Matters blog post about sex workers in Kenya using HIV drugs to protect themselves from HIV infection when condoms are not an option highlights the need for expanding options to prevent HIV transmission and acquisition.
Observing World AIDS Vaccine Day – It’s time to prepare for HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, also known as HVAD, also known as World AIDS Vaccine Day, which falls on Sunday. The challenges and progress of the three decade quest for an vaccine to prevent HIV infection are complicated, so AVAC, which is hosting a webinar on Monday, Breakthroughs and Big Questions: AIDS Vaccine Research in 2014 also has created an HVAD toolkit that includes overviews and updates on AIDS vaccine research and development, and breakdowns on key concepts, including antibody research, building on the RV 144 Thai trial results, how to make these concepts accessible, and more.