Some HIV/AIDS treatment groups have expressed "alarm" about a possible backlash against the use of the antiretroviral drug nevirapine among pregnant women to reduce the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission because of a recent series of Associated Press articles concerning clinical trials of the drug, the New York Times reports. The articles concerned NIH's research on the use of nevirapine in single doses among HIV-positive pregnant women in Uganda to determine the drug's ability to reduce the risk of vertical HIV transmission.
Equity and HIV/AIDS
By the end of 2001, the number of HIV/AIDS infected adults stood at 180,000, while children orphaned by the death of their AIDS-infected parents numbered around 73,000. With a total population of just under two million, the situation in Lesotho is clearly severe. Added to this pandemic is a poorly performing economy, unable to generate the necessary finances to implement a comprehensive strategy to tackle this disease. This paper looks at Lesotho's policy response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and looks at the capacity the country has for meeting the challenges posed by the disease.
Short-term relief followed by long-term disaster is not sound policy. Nonetheless, that could be a result of the Aids strategy being contemplated by the World Health Organisation, which on December 1 - World Aids Day - announced a plan to treat 3-million people with HIV/Aids by 2005. The WHO is proposing that billions of dollars be spent on increasing access to anti-retroviral drugs. That is a noble intention. However, it may not be the most cost-effective way to stem the tide of HIV/Aids: it may even be counterproductive. Let's be clear. Reducing the cost and increasing the supply of medicines to the poor is a good thing. But on its own it is not enough. Nor should it be today's priority. The roots of Africa's health care crisis run far deeper and broader than a mere shortage of drugs.
HIV/AIDS funding to low- and middle-income countries reached a record level in 2007, according to a new report by UNAIDS. AIDS spending by the G8 group of wealthy nations, the European Commission and other donors hit US$ 6.6 billion last year, up from US$ 5.6 billion in 2006. However, despite the largesse, UNAIDS said a US$8.1 billion gap in funding for essential HIV/AIDS programmes remained.
In what is being hailed as a boost for African involvement in AIDS research, Uganda has been selected to host the African AIDS Vaccine Programme (AAVP), formerly based in Geneva, Switzerland. The AAVP, a network of African HIV vaccine stakeholders whose mission is to promote HIV vaccine development for Africa, has operated under the stewardship of the World Health Organization's department of immunization vaccines and biologicals since its formation in 2000. The transition to a fully functional African programme began more than a year ago and will be completed in 2010. The Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), a leading research institute based in Entebbe, will be its new headquarters.
The recent rise of health systems strengthening as a policy priority suggests that a move away from single-disease approaches to global health may be occurring. As the largest attempt by far to tackle one disease, the global AIDS effort has acted as a lightning rod for criticisms of global health initiatives focused on single diseases, according to the author of this paper. Global AIDS institutions have sought to respond by broadening their mandates to incorporate some wider systemic interventions into their activities. However, as the debate over addressing particular diseases or investing in health systems continues, five important underlying political and ethical questions are being neglected, including whether there is an ideal health system, the timescales involved, the definition of sustainability, governance/structural capacity and political will. If a more sustained and coordinated effort to improve health outcomes is to become a reality, these difficult questions will need to be tackled, the author concludes.
To investigate the claim that widespread availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART) may result in sexual disinhibition, including practice of high-risk sexual behaviour, the authors of this study determined the correlates of sexual activity and high-risk sexual behaviour in an ART-treated population in rural and urban Uganda. They studied 329 ART-treated adult patients at two hospitals in western Uganda, collecting data on sexual activity, frequency of condom use, pregnancy, viral load and CD4 counts. Younger age, higher monthly income and being married were associated with being sexually active. Among the sexually active, alcohol consumption and unknown serostatus of partner were significant predictors of high-risk sexual behaviour. The frequency of unprotected sex at the last intercourse was 25.9% and 22.1% among the men and women respectively and was not significantly different. The authors recommend that counselling on alcohol use and disclosure of sero-status may be useful in reducing high-risk sexual behaviour.
The Pan African Treatment Access Movement (PATAM) is a social movement comprised of individuals and organizations dedicated to mobilising communities, political leaders, and all sectors of society to ensure access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, as a fundamental part of comprehensive care for all people with HIV/AIDS in Africa. However, the year 2005 saw some changes that affected the movement’s effectiveness and threatened its survival. These made it necessary for the PATAM leadership to convene a strategic planning workshop and make decisions concerning the movement’s future. The workshop, which was hosted by the ALCS and funded by ActionAid, was divided into two parts. This document provides a detailed report of the workshop highlights.
Fear of stigmatisation in Angola is keeping people living with HIV/AIDS in hiding. Caregivers are more than willing to help but are having a hard time finding patients to take care of. "People prefer to keep silent and to die in silence," Ambrósio Cabral, coordinator of Angola's Red Cross HIV/AIDS programme, told IRIN/PlusNews.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan praised some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies for their commitments to expand access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention after meeting with their top executives at United Nations Headquarters on Monday 24 July 2006. He said that the companies have committed individually to continue to review their product offerings and the prices of their existing and new HIV medications and diagnostics, especially for children, to make them more affordable, accessible and appropriate for use in low- and middle-income countries.