Monday December 9, 2013
The Obama Administration has often been criticized for not doing enough in the global fight against HIV/AIDS, particularly when compared to the aggressive strides made by his predecessor, George W. Bush. In some ways, the criticisms carry weight as funding for HIV/AIDS programs has remained largely stagnant in recent years, with greater focus placed on either "repurposing " or optimizing funds already in place.
Yet despite these criticisms, one fact remains clear: the U.S. continues to contribute the lion's share of funding to the global HIV/AIDS initiatives -- as much as two-thirds, according to Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
The Obama administration recently highlighted this disparity by offering to commit up to $5 billion over three years to the UN-led Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria if partner countries contributed two dollars for every one dollar the U.S. sends.
Monday December 9, 2013
Two men who many had earlier proclaimed as "functionally cured" of HIV have experienced viral rebounds, according to their doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
The men, who were both suffering from lymphoma and had undergone experimental stem cell transplants in October 2012, had been declared clear of the virus in July 2013. However, latest reports show that the virus reappeared in one of the men in August, while the second experienced rebound in November.
The news scuttled hopes that the procedure might open new doors to the eradication of HIV from the so-called "latent reservoirs" of the body. In this state, HIV lies dormant within a host cell, invisible to the body's immune defenses and little affected by antiretroviral therapy.
Thursday December 5, 2013
South Africans awakened this morning to the news that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, former-president and beloved human rights icon, has died at the age of 95. The hours since his passing at 8:50pm on Thursday, December 4 have been one of somber reflection for many, both here in South Africa and abroad, who have long held Mandela as a symbol of hope, freedom, dignity and tolerance.
His contributions to HIV/AIDS, most notably the founding of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and his 46664 charity, helped usher the country out of an era of deep governmental denialism into one that today operates the largest free antiretroviral program in the world.
What is being felt here on the ground is not so much a sense of grim resignation or despair, but rather a feeling of shared gratitude for helping lead the country to a place where it can move forward, positively and productively, well after his death.
A tribute to Mandela if ever there was one.
Sunday December 1, 2013
In what can only be described as an unprecedented blunder, the World Health Organization (WHO) apologized for reporting that half of new HIV infections in Greece were self-inflicted by those wanting to obtain a $1000 per month governmental benefit.
The WHO has since claimed that an editorial error in the 184-page report -- entitled the Review of Social Determinants and the Health Divide in the WHO European Region -- was the cause for the gaffe, and insists that they meant to say that half of all new infections were "self-inflicted" through intravenous drug use.
(Apparently, the term "a few individuals" from a referenced article in The Lancet was somehow replaced with "half of all new infections" by the time of publication.)