30 November 2011
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Australian Landmarks will turn red for World AIDS Day 2011

Today and tomorrow evening landmarks in Australia will be bathed in red for the global launch of World AIDS Day on 1 December 2011. Around the world, over 50 landmarks and iconic monuments will turn red in support of an AIDS-free generation by 2015.

The Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge pylons and Canberra’s New and Old Parliament Houses and Black Mountain Tower will turn red as part of a global campaign to create an AIDS-free generation by 2015;  and to reduce cases of mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 390,000 cases per year to zero by 2015.

On Wednesday 30 November, a World AIDS Day reception at the Opera House will be attended by the Governor-General and prominent HIV experts, advocates and activists involved in the global response to HIV/AIDS. The event is being coordinated by Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

“Creating an AIDS free generation by 2015 is an ambitious but attainable goal. It is one to which the world must remain committed” said Pacific Friends Chair Wendy McCarthy AO.

The Australian Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon Nicola Roxon, will be speaking at the Reception, as will the Lord Mayor of Sydney, the Hon Clover Moore MP.

A major theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is the compelling need to eliminate transmission of HIV from mother-to-child. One of the speakers at the Sydney Opera House will be Dr Mobumo Kiromat, the Clinical Director for the Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission with the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Papua New Guinea.

Another key speaker is Mr James Chau, Presenter and Senior Anchor with the China Central Television Network (CCTV) who also serves UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador. World AIDS Day Sydney will also hear from Robert Mitchell, President of the National Association of People Living with HIV AIDS and Mr Paul McClintock, Chair of Medibank.

Tune in to Twitter tonight for live coverage of the event between 7pm and 10pm on Twitter @PacificFriends #WorldAIDSDay #WAD2011 #GettingToZero #AIDSFreeGeneration2015 #turnRED #HIVisStillHere

Here is some coverage of last year’s event:

24 November 2011
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

World AIDS Day 2011 Charity Auction

World AIDS Day 2011 Charity Auction

unique (BUGABOO)RED donkey duo

the first mono-duo-mono convertible stroller for kid(s) and goods

To support World AIDS Day 2011 Bugaboo has generously donated a unique Donkey Duo stroller to Pacific Friends of the Global Fund for auction on eBay. The money raised will go to support ACON‘s Women and Families Affected by HIV Project. The stroller is only one of two in world that have been signed by Bugaboo creative designer Aernout Dijkstra-Hellinga. Launched only last month, the new Donkey Duo strollers have been hugely successful with only a limited number available in Australia due to the high worldwide demand.

The innovative stroller can be easily converted – in three clicks, from a full-sized mono to a full-sized side by side duo and back again to a mono stroller. This makes it suitable for your first child, your second child, or both and for twins, all with flexible and multiple storage space.

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Through the Women and Families Affected by HIV Project, ACON provides a supportive environment for HIV positive women and their supporters, family members, carers and friends. The aim is to provide a safe and confidential environment for women to come together for emotional support and build social networks with other positive women, while developing a sense of empowerment and a broader awareness of different aspects of living with HIV including health promotion principles.

The package for auction on eBay includes a unique signed Bugaboo Donkey duo stroller (retail price $1999 AUD) with one extra set of tailored fabrics in red.

Go to the eBay auction to see the current highest bid and bid yourself.

10 November 2011
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Hillary Rodham Clinton: “Creating an AIDS-Free Generation”

The US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke earlier this week at the National Institutes of Health on “A vision for the next steps in the fight against HIV/AIDS”. Her speech shed a very encouraging light on the fight against HIV/AIDS and the goal of an AIDS-Free Generation by 2015. The Foundation for AIDS Research, amfAR, welcomed the Secretary’ remarks.

The full transcript can be found here, below follow some important excerpts:

What’s more, our efforts have helped set the stage for a historic opportunity, one that the world has today: to change the course of this pandemic and usher in an AIDS-free generation.

Now, by an AIDS-free generation, I mean one where, first, virtually no children are born with the virus; second, as these children become teenagers and adults, they are at far lower risk of becoming infected than they would be today thanks to a wide range of prevention tools; and third, if they do acquire HIV, they have access to treatment that helps prevent them from developing AIDS and passing the virus on to others.

Now, HIV may be with us well into the future. But the disease that it causes need not be. This is, I admit, an ambitious goal, and I recognize I am not the first person to envision it. But creating an AIDS-free generation has never been a policy priority for the United States Government until today, because this goal would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Yet today, it is possible because of scientific advances largely funded by the United States and new practices put in place by this Administration and our many partners. Now while the finish line is not yet in sight, we know we can get there, because now we know the route we need to take. It requires all of us to put a variety of scientifically proven prevention tools to work in concert with each other. Just as doctors talk about combination treatment – prescribing more than one drug at a time – we all must step up our use of combination prevention.

Even as we recognize all these crucial elements, today I want to focus on the three key interventions that can make it possible to achieve an AIDS-free generation. First, preventing mother-to-child transmission. Today, one in seven new infections occurs when a mother passes the virus to her child. We can get that number to zero. I keep saying zero; my speechwriter keeps saying “Virtually zero.” (Laughter, applause.) And we can save mother’s lives too.

In addition to preventing mother-to-child transmission, an effective combination prevention strategy has to include voluntary medical male circumcision. In the past few years, research has proven that this low-cost procedure reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission by more than 60 percent, and that the benefit is life-long.

In the fight against AIDS, the ideal intervention is one that prevents people from being infected in the first place, and the two methods I’ve described – mother-to-child transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision – are the most cost-effective interventions we have, and we are scaling them up. But even once people do become HIV-positive, we can still make it far less likely that they will transmit the virus to others by treating them with the antiretroviral drugs. So this is the third element of combination prevention that I want to mention.

For years, some have feared that scaling up treatment would detract from prevention efforts. Now we know beyond a doubt if we take a comprehensive view of our approach to the pandemic, treatment doesn’t take away from prevention. It adds to prevention. So let’s end the old debate over treatment versus prevention and embrace treatment as prevention.

Finally, we’re calling on other donor nations to do their part, including by supporting and strengthening the Global Fund. Consider just one example of what the Global Fund has already done. In 2004, virtually none of the people in Malawi who were eligible to receive treatment actually received it. As of last year, with significant help from the Global Fund, nearly half did.

Much of what we do will depend upon the people in this room and the hundreds and thousands like you – the researchers and scientists, the public health docs and nurses and other personnel, the community health workers, the funders and donors, the government officials, the business leaders, philanthropies, and faith communities that have all joined together in this quite remarkable way to combat this disease.

Let’s not stop now. Let’s keep focused on the future. And one of those futures that I hope we can be part of achieving is an AIDS-free generation. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

4 November 2011
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

Bill Gates presents report to get G20 behind Financial Transactions Tax (FTT)

Bill Gates has submitted to the G20 group of advanced and emerging economies at a two-day summit in Cannes his report “Innovation with Impact: Financing 21st Century Development“. In the report Gates outlines recommendations to encourage innovation and new partnerships that increase the value and delivery of development aid.

One of the focus areas of the Gates report is the backing of a tax on financial transactions (FTT) to step up development efforts in order to ease poverty. Not sure what an FTT is and how it can be implemented? A recent report commissioned by UNITAID called “Tax on Financial Transactions: An implementation guide” addresses all these questions.

Bill Gates spoke with George Alagiah for BBC News on the potential of an FTT: 

The Innovation with Impact: Financing 21st Century Development report discusses the FTT on page 13:

There has been a lot of discussion lately about introducing new financial sector taxes to raise revenue for various purposes, as well as to discourage excessive risk-taking. Ideas include taxes on financial assets, combined profits and remuneration, and financial transactions. A financial transaction tax (FTT) has been widely advocated as a good way of raising additional resources for development.

FTTs already exist in many countries, where they generate significant revenue, so they are clearly technically feasible. According to the IMF, 15 G20 countries have some form of securities transaction tax. In the seven countries where the IMF estimates revenue, these taxes raise an estimated $15 billion per year.

The general recommendation for an efficient tax is a low rate on a large base. This broadly holds true for FTTs as well. Across different instruments, the tax could be sized to reduce potential economic distortions, so that the tax on equities would be slightly higher than the tax on long-dated bonds, short-dated bonds, swaps, and futures.

Some modeling suggests that even a small tax of 10 basis points on equities and two basis points on bonds would yield about $48 billion on a G20-wide basis, or $9 billion if it were confined to larger European economies. Other FTT proposals offer substantially larger estimates, in the $100 billion to $250 billion range, especially if derivatives are included.

The G20 countries will continue discussing the FTT. For those that choose to adopt it, I urge you not to use all of the proceeds as general revenue. It is critical that a portion of the money raised be reserved for investments in development.

31 October 2011
Tim Siegenbeek van Heukelom

New Commitments to The End of Polio Campaign

On the 29th October 2011 the Australian Government committed $50 million to polio eradication efforts in response to the Global Poverty Project’s The End of Polio campaign. This commitment helps to close the funding gap currently limiting global vaccination work.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xyXR8Wsx4I

The GAVI Alliance welcomed the commitments by the Australian Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation towards the eradication of polio:

Ridding the World of Polio – GAVI Welcomes Funding Commitment

The GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) Deputy CEO, Helen Evans congratulated the Australian Government and the Gates Foundation on their significant pledges toward the eradication of polio announced today which builds on their broader commitment to saving the lives of children by providing access to life saving vaccines.

Australia has today committed AUD$50 million over four years to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, while the Gates Foundation has committed US$40 million, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia.

Ms Evans said that the announcement was timely and appropriate, given that polio is still endemic in three Commonwealth nations, India, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Significant funding pledges by the Australian Government and the Gates Foundation towards polio eradication will prevent suffering and assist with eradicating the disease.

“Few people in the developed world realise that polio still a serious problem in a small number of countries, where it continues to cause death and permanent disability,” Ms Evans said.

“While the disease is 99% eradicated we have an historic opportunity to take that final step and rid the world of polio. It’s time to seize the moment and consign polio to the history books as we did with small pox.”

Ms Evans said that while today’s funding pledge was crucial, money alone would not solve the polio problem.

“Vaccinating the final one per cent is very difficult because we’re talking about children in conflict zones and rural and very inaccessible areas,” Ms Evans said.

“The political commitment expressed today by heads of government at the CHOGM meeting, community awareness and education are all vital to achieving complete eradication of polio.”

“The stakes are high. Polio is a highly infectious disease and until we eradicate it entirely, we run the risk of escalating numbers of cases.”

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

Pacific Friends

Professor Janice Reid AC
Chair
Bill Bowtell AO
Executive Director

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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