Leaders Respond to World AIDS Day; South Africa to Expand HIV Treatment Program
December 2, 2009
Marking World AIDS Day on Tuesday, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon "warned ... that new infections are outpacing the gains from treating people with the HIV virus" and that discrimination against HIV-positive people remains "widespread," the Associated Press reports. "While the world is seeing signs of progress in reversing the AIDS epidemic, Ban said Tuesday that more must be done urgently to reach the U.N. goal of providing universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010," the news service writes (Lederer, 12/1).
"This goal can be achieved only if we shine the full light of human rights on HIV," Ban said in a U.N. statement. "That means countering any form of HIV-related stigma and discrimination. It means eliminating violence against women and girls. It means ensuring access to HIV information and services" (12/1).
"I urge all countries to remove punitive laws, policies and practices that hamper the AIDS response, including travel restrictions against people living with HIV," Ban said, Xinhua/People's Daily Online reports. "Successful AIDS responses do not punish people; they protect them" (12/2).
Speaking at a World AIDS Day event Tuesday, World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick Tuesday reaffirmed the bank's commitment to funding "effective HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs in developing countries" and called upon countries to increase their efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, Xinhua reports (12/2).
Zuma Announces Expansion of HIV Treatment for Pregnant Women, Infants; U.S. to Give $120 Million to South Africa for ARVs
During a national address on Tuesday marking World AIDS Day, South African President Jacob Zuma announced a new policy to expand treatment to pregnant women and babies living with HIV, the New York Times reports. "The new policy on pregnant women, aimed at ensuring babies are born healthy, is in line with the new treatment guidelines" released Monday by the WHO, the newspaper writes (Dugger, 12/1).
Beginning in "April 2010, all children under one year will get anti-retroviral drugs [ARVs] if they test positive. ... and [all] patients with both tuberculosis and [HIV] will receive treatment if their CD4 or T-cell counts are 350 or less" compared to the current treatment guidelines of CD4 counts are below 200, Reuters reports (Govender, 12/1).
"Health ministry spokesman Fidel Radebe said the government did not yet have an estimate of how many people would benefit from the new measures, or for how much the expanded treatment would cost. South Africa runs the world's largest anti-retroviral programme, but under the existing scheme nearly one million people are still believed to need treatment," Agence France-Presse reports (Marawanyika, 12/1).
Zuma also used the World AIDS Day speech to address the importance of being tested for HIV, AFP reports in a second story. "Let today be the dawn of a new era. Let there be no more shame, no more blame, no more discrimination and no more stigma," Zuma said in his speech. He continued, "I am making arrangements for my own test. I have taken HIV tests before, and I know my status. I will do another test soon," Zuma said. "I urge you to start planning for your own tests" (Marawanyika , 12/1).
The AP reports that UNAIDS head Michel Sidibe traveled to South Africa to participate in World AIDS Day activities (11/30). On Tuesday, Sidibe "applauded [the South African] government's national strategic plan to halve new infections by 2011 and ensure that 80 percent of people living with the disease had access to treatment," SAPA/Times Live reports (12/1).
"Donald Gips, the American ambassador to South Africa, announced that the United States would give South Africa $120 million over the coming two years to help meet the growing demand for antiretroviral drugs. That comes on top of the $560 million the United States already is planning to give South Africa in fiscal year 2010 to fight AIDS," the New York Times writes (12/1).
"This additional funding is in direct response to the government of South Africa's request," Gips said in a statement, according to a second story by the AP. "U.S. officials have said that with Zuma's new approach, a new era of cooperation had opened, and that they would be more responsive to the South African government's agenda," AP reports (Bryson, 12/1).
Media Examines Global, Regional Responses to HIV/AIDS
Reuters details the impact of HIV/AIDS on Africa in a factbox. Of the estimated 33.4 million people living with HIV, "Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region most heavily affected [by the virus], accounting for 67 percent of all people living with HIV and 91 percent of all new infections among children" (12/1).
Global Post examines how male circumcision is being used in areas of Africa as a means of mitigating the spread of HIV. The piece features several videos of medical workers in Africa who share their views on the male circumcision programs in Africa (Warner, 11/30).
Radio Free Asia examines the growing number HIV cases reported among of gay men and sex workers in Asia (Mudie, 12/1). In related news, the WHO on Tuesday warned "[t]he incidence of HIV/AIDS in Asia could worsen if governments continue to ignore the fundamental rights of so-called marginalized groups such as injecting drug users, sex workers, and men who have sex with men and transgender people," the Manila Bulletin reports. "While access to HIV services is expanding in some settings, most-at-risk population groups continue to face technical, legal and socio-cultural barriers to accessing those services, WHO said," the news service writes (Manongdo, 12/1).
The Financial Times examines efforts underway to increase the availability of low-cost, easy-to-use HIV diagnostics in developing countries. The article examines the need for "point-of-care CD4 tests" and oral HIV tests in developing countries, and the success of an early infant diagnosis program in Tanzania (Stevenson, 11/30).
NPR's "Talk of the Nation" features a discussion about the global scope of the HIV/AIDS epidemic with science correspondent Brenda Wilson, Phil Wilson, founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, and Elly Katabira, president-elect of the International AIDS Society. "Worldwide, new HIV infections have fallen almost 17 percent every year since 2001, and with broader access to better treatment more people are living longer with the disease," the news service notes. "But AIDS still presents tremendous challenges. Globally, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization report that more than half of those who need treatment cannot get it" (Conan, 12/2).
Media Examines Country-Level Responses to HIV/AIDS
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily Global Health Policy Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.