Global Health News

Why cities hold the key to fighting AIDS

Why Cities Hold the Key to Fighting Aids

The Guardian — UK
By Bill de Blasio and Anne Hidalgo
16 June 2016

Cities will determine the outcome of the fight to end Aids. Of the 35 million people living with HIV around the world, more than a quarter reside in urban hotspots affected by the pandemic. And in many major cities, over half of all people live without access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care. Urban strategies and actions are central to ending the Aids epidemic by 2030. This goal is ambitious but achievable and necessary. Cities are already demonstrating leadership.

There have been seismic changes in cities like Amsterdam, Paris, London, New York, San Francisco and Vancouver – all are close to reaching the so-called 90–90–90 treatment targets: namely that by 2020, 90% of all people with HIV will know their status; 90% of those people will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy; and 90% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will maintain viral suppression.

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Gates Says Altered Mosquito Is Next Weapon to Fight Malaria

Bloomberg
By Caroline Chen
16 June 2016

Bring on the genetically modified mosquitoes, Bill Gates says. In recent years, biologists armed with a new gene-editing technology have proposed altering mosquitoes so they’re more resistant to diseases like malaria and dengue. Using a mechanism known as a “gene drive,” the researchers say they can quickly push an alteration through an entire species.
“In less than five years, I think there’s a good chance it will be out there,” Gates said in an interview with Bloomberg News before speaking at a conference of the American Society for Microbiology in Boston. In normal reproduction, a mosquito carrying one copy of an altered gene passes it on to 50 percent of its offspring. In a gene drive, an engineered segment of DNA is inserted in the mosquito that causes nearly 100 percent of the offspring to inherit the altered gene, dramatically increasing the rate of spread.

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Treatment Reduces HIV Transmission By 77% in South African Couples

aidsmap
By Keith Alcorn
16 June 2016

Antiretroviral treatment reduced the risk of HIV transmission by 77% in serodiscordant couples in rural South Africa, a population-based study carried out in the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal has shown. The findings are published in advance online in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The investigators say that their findings provide a real-life estimate of the impact of antiretroviral treatment on HIV transmission under normal community conditions.

The study findings come from a longitudinal population-based study that is being conducted in northern Kwazulu-Natal province by the Africa Centre for Population Health. Kwazulu-Natal has the highest prevalence of HIV in South Africa (29%) and HIV incidence remains high. Antiretroviral treatment began to be provided in the province in 2004.

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Inequality Preventing Us from Eradicating AIDS

The Guardian Global development
By Lilianne Ploumen
09 June 2016

There was a time when we could say that humanity had no control over Aids, but this is no longer true. Yet only last year, 1.1 million people died of Aids-related illnesses, and 2.1 million more were infected with HIV. An estimated 19.7 million people living with HIV are not receiving antiretroviral treatment. This is not due to our inability to tackle Aids; rather, it is a manifestation of inequality in all its forms – social, cultural, economic and gender-based.

Often, different forms of inequality go hand-in-hand: rape survivors, for instance, run an extra high risk of being infected with HIV. More often than not they are poor – and so are their rapists. Once infected, they are very likely to become ill and die and, although there are medicines to prevent this, many people don’t have access to them. This inequality doesn’t only affect the world’s poorest regions. About 60% of people with HIV live in middle-income countries. That figure illustrates an alarming phenomenon: although inequality between countries is fading, inequality within countries is growing. On the one hand, incomes in middle-income countries are rising, a middle class is emerging and healthcare is improving. On the other hand large groups of people are not benefiting from this progress.

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Why Blood Transfusions Are Still Giving Indians HIV

BBC
By Chapal Mehra
09 June 2016

A recent news report on HIV transmission through blood transfusion in India has been the cause of much controversy. According to information revealed by the country’s National Aids Control Organisation (Naco) in response to a petition filed by an information activist, 2,234 Indians have contracted HIV while receiving blood transfusions in hospitals in the past 17 months alone. Despite wide scale efforts, blood transfusions remain a source of HIV infections not just in India but globally. The percentage, however, varies considerably between high-income and low-income countries.

India’s own rate of HIV transmission from blood transfusion has come down considerably and now stands below 1%. Yet, while in terms of percentage this may seem small, the large number of cases – India has around 2.09 million people living with HIV/Aids – means that the absolute number is considerable. So 2,234 cases in 17 months cannot be dismissed as miniscule.

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Can Global Health Funders Work with the Private Sector?

Devex
By Vicky Hausman, Erin Barringer and Ashley Eberhart
15 June 2016

Many countries have started working toward achieving universal health coverage — where all people can access affordable health care when they need it — but have realized it will be challenging to achieve through the public sector alone. Despite the efforts and funding focused on supporting countries to achieve UHC as quickly as possible, it could realistically still be decades before low- and middle-income countries in particular have the tax base, health infrastructure, and health workforce they need to deliver affordable, timely and quality care for all.

The “working poor” — often earning too much to qualify for government and NGO safety net programs, but earning too little to opt into existing private health insurance offerings — are especially prone to having nowhere to go for affordable care. This often overlooked group poses both a challenge for the global health sector and a market opportunity for private health insurance. There is an opportunity for global health actors — especially global health funders — to more actively collaborate with private health insurance providers to develop models that reach the working poor at scale, and at high quality in order to shift toward more sustainable sources of financing.

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Muslim States Block 11 LGBT Groups from Attending UN AIDS Meeting

Reuters
17 May 2016

A group of 51 Muslim states has blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from attending a high-level meeting at the United Nations next month on ending Aids, sparking a protest by the US, Canada and the EU. Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member general assembly on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to object to the participation of the 11 groups. It did not give a reason in the letter, which Reuters has seen.

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Obama Marks ‘Homophobia and Transphobia Day’

Embroiled in a controversy over transgender bathrooms in schools, President Obama marked “International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia” on Tuesday with a statement urging Americans to treat everyone with respect. Mr. Obama said the worldwide event celebrates “the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.”

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Melinda Gates Wants To Take the Gender Bias Out Of Data

On Tuesday at the opening of the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, Melinda Gates announced that the foundation she co-chairs with her husband, Bill, will invest $80 million over the next three years in women and girls. Specifically, researchers will seek previously unreported data on the lives of women in the developing world. In her speech, Gates said, “We know that empowered women and girls absolutely transform societies,” so the thrust of the foundation’s investment is to reveal where women’s needs are not being met, and how the global community can better serve them. “I’m not saying that data alone is going to change women’s lives,” Gates said, but she wants the world to be held accountable on women’s rights.

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Pacific Friends operates as a program within the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.

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Professor Janice Reid AC
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Bill Bowtell AO
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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.

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