We’re reading lessons of PEPFAR, and from progress gained and abandoned

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PEPFAR: Oh what good you have done!  From South Africa’s first reported AIDS patient in 1982, to the years when the epidemic filled hospitals and graveyards, to the miraculous but selective deliverance of antiretroviral medicine, to the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, to a White House budget proposal for 2018 that threatens to reverse years of gains and hope, this post from the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation is succinct and wrenching.

In Venezuela, a once-leading AIDS program lies in ruins – Chronic antiretroviral medicine shortages, a public health system with no HIV tests or condoms, and patients wasting away and dying waiting for treatment — the conditions Globe and Mail journalist Stephanie Nolen reports here summons memories of a horrific past, or of places yet to realize the progress of the present. But she is describing Venezuela, a country lauded for its response to HIV just a decade and a half ago, when Nolen was covering the devastation of the ignored epidemic across southern Africa. The article serves up a reminder of how fragile advances against HIV — or any infectious disease outbreak — remain until they have achieved epidemic control.

HHS Secretary disagrees with Trump on Ebola travel ban – If you watched U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price defend President Trump’s proposal to slash funding to almost all government programs supporting public and individual health, you might have wondered what it would take for the cabinet member, who is also a physician, to disagree with his boss. Interestingly, the answer can be found, in this case, at the intersection of public health and humanity.

U.S. malaria donations saved almost 2 million African children – Donald MacNeil of the New York Times looks at findings that “debunk one of the persistent myths of foreign aid: that it has no effect because more children survive each year anyway as economies improve.”

What killed half a million Indians? Not just inadequate TB funding, but a miserly approach to public health funding across the board, according to the authors, physicians Pranay Sinha of Yale-New Haven Hospital and Scott K. Heysell of the University of Virginia.

Policy Statement on the Medicaid Program, Public Health and Access to HIV Care – In the U.S., the Medicaid program, which provides a reliable source of healthcare coverage for nearly 69 million Americans, including about 40 percent of people living with HIV, plays an essential role in providing access to early diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HIV infections, this position paper from the HIV Medicine Association notes. It remains to be seen, whether the lessons above from around the world, or the points in this paper will factor into what happens to the program in the current political environment.

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