July 26, 2012
A roundup of news from the International AIDS Conference taking place this week in Washington.
Treating Everybody With HIV Is the Goal, But Who Will Pay?
The big question hanging over the International AIDS Conference this week is whether all 34 million people in the world with HIV can possibly get antiviral drug treatment (Knox, NPR, 7/26).
AIDS Advocates Pushing for Medicaid Expansion
The expansion of the Medicaid program -- or the lack thereof -- has emerged as a major focus of U.S. AIDS advocates at the 2012 International AIDS Conference this week. An estimated 1.1 million Americans are infected with the HIV virus -- and 1 in 5 doesn't know it. HIV/AIDS advocates say Medicaid expansion could help identify many of the infected people -- and get them into treatment. It could also provide comprehensive treatment for low-income patients receiving limited care now (Norman, Politico, 7/25).
Bill Gates Pushes for More Advances to Fight AIDS
Much of the conversation at the XIX International AIDS Conference here this week is about how to use science already at hand to "turn the tide" on the 31-year-old pandemic. Over at his foundation's offices a few blocks away, Bill Gates is reaffirming his faith in scientific advances yet to come. "Without much better tools it is not at all realistic to think you can end this epidemic. It's just not realistic," he said in an interview this week (McKay, The Wall Street Journal, 7/25).
HIV Drug Resistance Is Spreading in Africa, Experts Say
Scaling up the distribution of HIV medication over the last decade has vastly increased the number of people receiving treatment around the world. An estimated 8 million infected people received the antiretroviral drugs in 2011, compared to just 400,000 in 2003. But with this massive roll-out comes an inevitable and potentially dangerous consequence: The AIDS virus can more easily develop resistance to these life-saving drugs (Loury, Los Angeles Times, 7/25).
AIDS Experts: Focus on Pregnant Women Not Enough
Even in the U.S., infections increasingly are concentrated in poor communities. Here, 1 in 4 people living with HIV is female and most are African-American or Hispanic. The Affordable Care Act is expected to improve treatment for many uninsured Americans with HIV, but a number of states say they may not expand Medicaid services, one key part of that law. A report from the 30 for 30 Campaign, a women's coalition, found those are states with high numbers of HIV-infected women (Neergaard, The Associated Press, 7/26).
Michael Weinstein: "We Have a Long Way to Go" in the U.S. (Video)
In this Kaiser Health News video, Weinstein, the president and co-founder of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, tells Joanne Silberner that it is important to keep public policy focused on proven methods for controlling AIDS (Kaiser Health News, 7/25).
Applause, Boos Greet Politicians at IAC
Amid chanting, jeers, and cheers, congressional leaders pledged to continue a bipartisan approach to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, both at home and abroad. "We have to keep our eyes on the prize" and not let partisan politics derail a decade of progress, said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) during a special session at the International AIDS Conference here. Lee said that she and others from both sides of the aisle had worked with former President George W. Bush to pass the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which, "quite frankly, has saved millions of lives" (Smith, Medpage Today, 7/25).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.