GENEVA, 18 May 2015—On HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, UNAIDS is calling for a renewed global commitment to finding an effective HIV vaccine.
“A vaccine would be a major step towards ending the AIDS epidemic,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. “There have been encouraging recent scientific advances that give us hope for the future development of an HIV vaccine.”
UNAIDS is committed to leaving nobody behind in the HIV response. A major advantage of vaccines is that they promote equity and can be used effectively in all communities and settings, including those where many other health services can be harder to deliver.
Studies show that an HIV vaccine is possible. The RV144 vaccine trial in 2009 lowered the rate of HIV infection by 31%. There is much hope that ongoing research will build on this trial and deliver results. Newer vaccine candidates, as well as neutralizing antibodies, are also being studied.
Vaccines have eradicated smallpox, and polio is close to eradication. Vaccines have also effectively controlled diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, mumps, measles and rubella, among other infectious diseases.
However, in 2013, HIV vaccine research and development saw the largest decline in investment since 2008. In order to transform promising concepts into an effective and accessible vaccine increased and sustained funding will be critical.
Port Moresby – Lady Roslyn Morauta, Chairperson of the Papua New Guinea Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) for the Global Fund, said today that she was delighted that the Global Fund had continued its support to health programs in Papua New Guinea by signing three new grant agreements worth US$50 million to the end of 2017 for Malaria, Tuberculosis and Health System Strengthening.
Since 2004, the Global Fund has approved grants for Papua New Guinea worth US$187 million. In addition to this, a total of US$83 million has been approved by the Global Fund for Papua New Guinea for 2014-2017.
At the grant signing ceremony held at the National Department of Health, Lady Morauta thanked Dr Mark Dybul, the Executive Director of the Global Fund, and representatives of donors to the Global Fund. The financial resources provided through the Global Fund come from many donors, represented in Port Moresby today by the Australian High Commissioner, and the Ambassadors of the United States and the European Union.
She also thanked the Minister for Health, Hon Michael Malabag and Health Secretary Pascoe Kase for working closely with the CCM to meet grant conditions and to finalise the grant proposals to the Global Fund.
The CCM is a multi-stakeholder body, including representatives from the Government, the private sector, churches, NGOs, academic institutions, multilateral and bilateral agencies, and people living with the diseases targeted by the Global Fund (HIV, TB and Malaria). The CCM develops and submits grant proposals to the Global Fund based on the priority needs of the disease strategies of the National Department of Health. After grant approval, the CCM oversees progress during the implementation, so it plays a key role in oversight of the grants. Drawdown of funds is based on performance.
The Implementers/Principal Recipients for the new grants are Rotarians Against Malaria and Population Services International for Malaria, and World Vision for TB. The TB grant also has an over-arching Health System Strengthening component.
“The key to success of these grants is not just the commitment and hard work of the Principal Recipients, but a close working relationship with the National and Provincial Health Departments and District Authorities, who in fact carry out a large bulk of the activities funded by the grants,” Lady Morauta said.
The CCM Chair noted that the Government’s investment in Global Fund supported programs was significant. For the period 2012-2014 the government contribution to the programs totaled US$62 million. This is expected to increase by 78% during 2015-2017, with an indicative budgeted amount of US$110 million.
“The CCM is proud that the PNG Government’s commitment to these programs is strong. This is an important achievement. The initial Global Fund programs in PNG were almost entirely funded by the Global Fund, which caused problems when the grants ended. The close of the first HIV grant, for example, left many gaps in government and church HIV services, and also for patients. The sustainability of these programs is critical. The Government now recognises the importance of continuity, and is making a substantial co-financing contribution.”
Lady Roslyn also paid tribute to the Australian Government, the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS for the on-going technical and financial support they provided to the CCM.
The grant agreements were signed by Dr. Mark Dybul, Executive Director of the Global Fund, Gabriele Ganci, Country Director of Population Services International, Ron Seddon, Chairman of Rotarians Against Malaria, Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia, Curt Von Boguslawski, Country Director for World Vision, Roslyn Morauta as Chair of the PNG CCM and Heni Meke, representing civil society organisations on the CCM.
The two malaria grants, worth a combined total of US$32 million, will be used to fund purchase and distribution of 2.8 million mosquito nets and training of community health workers. The grants will also support prompt diagnosis of malaria, strengthen monitoring and improve access to care for the country’s most disadvantaged communities.
The other US$18 million grant, to be administered by the international and Australian divisions of World Vision, aims to reduce the incidence and prevalence of tuberculosis in PNG. The grant will be used to improve the recruitment and retention of clinical staff. It will also strengthen the systems needed to enable access to quality drugs and laboratory diagnostics for HIV, TB and Malaria, helping to build a stronger health system as a whole.
Lady Morauta said that, thanks to previous funding from the Global Fund and the strategy followed by the National Government, Papua New Guinea had made tremendous progress in its campaign against malaria. According to the World Health Organisation, malaria prevalence has decreased from 12.1 per cent to 1.8 per cent. Key to this success has been an aggressive mosquito net distribution program. Approximately 82 per cent of households now own at least one net.
More cases of tuberculosis are being treated than before and case detection of the disease has risen to 89 per cent in 2013 from 61 per cent in 2010.
“The new grants build on the success of the previous Global Fund grant programs. We look forward to further reduction in the incidence of malaria, and to an acceleration of the campaign against TB, which is now a very serious public health issue in Papua New Guinea,” Lady Morauta said.
Sydney film premiere:
A compelling story of sexuality, activism and hope by renowned Swedish filmmaker.
On the eve of World AIDS Day (1 December 2014) the Pacific Friends of The Global Fund are proud to present the Sydney premiere of the compelling documentary film Transmission: The journey from AIDS to HIV.
Thirty years in the making, Transmission: The journey from AIDS to HIV tells the powerful and very human stories of those living with HIV and the activism behind society’s changing attitudes about the disease.
Blending archival footage with interviews from the present, world renowned Swedish documentary filmmaker Staffan Hildebrand lays bare the taboo issues of sex and sexuality against the backdrop of fear and misunderstanding in the 80s and 90s. He expertly contrasts this with the messages of hope and positivity delivered by the young, tech-savvy, AIDS activists of today.
Hildebrand first visited Australia in 1988 as part of a global effort to document the struggles and activism of those suffering HIV/AIDS. His unique record, known as the Face of AIDS archive, is held at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and spans over 900 hours of archival footage.
In Transmission: The journey from AIDS to HIV Hildebrand revisits the Australian doctors and health workers who were on the frontline of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s and featured in his archive. As a counterpoint he also retraces his steps through AIDS ravaged Cambodia, providing a fascinating insight into the inequities in treatment between our two countries.
In the end though, Hildebrand leaves us with a message of hope. He captures the unshakable spirit of the activists who have driven social change and the pride with which HIV positive people live with their diagnosis.
Transmission: The journey from AIDS to HIV was funded through the generous support of The Myer Foundation, The Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation (Melbourne), The Finkel Foundation, ACON, The Victorian AIDS Council and The Burnet Institute.
Staffan Hildebrand was awarded a prestigious Fullbright Scholarship in 1968. Inspired by changing media he bought his first video camera and by 1971 he was covering the Vietnam war for Swedish National Television News from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
In 1983 he came to international prominence directing his first full length feature G, a box-office hit about youth culture, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Hildebrand also directed Nights of Stockholm (1987) and Someone to love (1990), both of which achieved box office success.
In 1988 Hildebrand’s first documentary on HIV/AIDS was selected as the opening film for the IV International AIDS Conference in Stockholm.
Director Staffan Hildebrand is available for interview from Sweden. Participants in the documentary including Sebastian Robinson, Nic Dorward and Abby Landy are available for interview locally.
Available online at www.queerscreen.org.au
Mobile: 0434 850 782
UNAIDS welcomes Australia’s commitment to equal treatment of people living with HIV in its immigration policies
Press Statement by UNAIDS
GENEVA, 10 July 2014—UNAIDS welcomes confirmation from the Government of Australia that people living with HIV do not face an automatic exclusion, or unequal treatment when applying for entry, stay or residence visas. People living with HIV are treated similarly to other people with chronic health conditions and disabilities during the country’s immigration health assessment process. Applications for visas from people living with HIV will be assessed against criteria applying to anyone with a chronic health condition.
The announcement came ahead of the 20th International AIDS Conference, which will take place in Melbourne, Australia, from 20 to 25 July 2014.
“People living with HIV need equal opportunity to contribute to and benefit from today’s globalized world, where migration is increasingly important. Eliminating travel restrictions is not only a human right for individuals, it improves business prospects for communities,” said the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé.
UNAIDS advocates for the right to equal freedom of movement, regardless of HIV status. There is no evidence that restrictions on the entry, stay or residence of people living with HIV protect the public’s health. In 2012, more than 40 chief executives from some of the world’s largest companies signed a pledge opposing HIV restrictions, calling them discriminatory and bad for business.
As part of its ongoing dialogue with countries on this issue, UNAIDS has sent communications to all countries, territories and areas that appear to have HIV-related entry, stay and residence restrictions, and has raised the issue during official high-level visits. Australia has made important reforms to its migration health assessment requirements and procedures since the conclusion of a parliamentary inquiry on migration and disability in 2010, including an annual increase to the “significant cost threshold”, the elimination of the cost assessment related to health services for humanitarian visa applicants and improvements to increase the transparency of the health assessment process. These reforms were assessed against the criteria outlined by the International Task Team on HIV-related Travel Restrictions, co-chaired by the Government of Norway and UNAIDS, and it was concluded that Australia had met the task team’s standard.
Global Health News
Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a high-level advocacy organisation which seeks to mobilise regional awareness of the serious threat posed by HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to societies and economies in the Pacific. In pursuing its goals Pacific Friends has a specific interest in highlighting the need to protect the rights of women and children in the Pacific.