JOHANNESBURG, 15 January 2013 (PlusNews) – The only HIV vaccine trial to achieve moderate success took place four years ago, yet it continues to reveal new information about the virus and renew hopes for a future vaccine.
In 2009, researchers released the findings of a six-year HIV vaccine study carried out in Thailand known as RV144. Conducted among 16,000 HIV-negative men and women, the trial found that HIV infection rates were 31 percent lower among participants who received the vaccine than in those who had not.
It was an encouraging protection rate, but short of the minimum 50 percent prevention rate required to slow the epidemic, which afflicts an estimated 34 million people worldwide, according to researchers at Duke University in the US.
Now, researchers say they have a better understanding of why the vaccine might have worked – and possible new targets for future vaccines. Continue reading “HIV/AIDS: Groundbreaking Vaccine Research Reveals More Clues about HIV” »
ADDIS ABABA, 9 January 2013 (PlusNews) – Major projected cuts in US government funding for Ethiopia’s health sector could greatly undermine the progress the country has made in the fight against HIV, authorities and experts say.
“There’s an AIDS spending cliff in Ethiopia, and the government is already in free fall. Next year, Ethiopia will experience a 79 percent reduction in US HIV financing from PEPFAR [the US President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief],” wrote Amanda Glassman, a director at Global Health Policy and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.
Ethiopian government officials, however, told IRIN/PlusNews that, while they were concerned about the funding cuts, they had been expecting them.
“We are a bit concerned, but considering the current global financial crisis and the budget deficit in the US, we had anticipated this,” said Kesetebirhan Admassu, the new minister of health.
“Most of the cuts are going to be around softer programmatic activities that can be taken care of by mobilizing internal resources as well as using some innovative approaches like the health development army and so on,” Admassu added. Continue reading “ETHIOPIA: Concerns Over HIV/AIDS Funding Cuts” »
HARARE, 11 January 2013 (PlusNews) – Chronic shortages of generic and antiretroviral drugs, stock-outs, high medication costs, and long distances to clinics are some of the hurdles people face in their quest to access essential medicines in Zimbabwe.
At any given time, public health facilities in much of Zimbabwe have in stock only half of a core set of critical medicines, according to findings from civil society groups working to improve access to medicines in Southern Africa.
Zimbabwe is still recuperating from a drastic decline in health services caused by sub-optimal investments in healthcare and an unprecedented economic crisis in 2008, during which the local currency crashed.
To make matters worse, over 80 percent of the country’s drugs are externally funded.
A poorly resourced local pharmaceutical industry can barely provide the country with its essential medicine requirements, and government-backed institutions, such as the National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NatPharm), which is mandated with securing drugs and healthcare products on behalf of state institutions, are struggling to survive. Continue reading “ZIMBABWE: Still Struggling with Drug Shortages” »
Recent editorials on Africa are catchy, grizzly, and even sexy. They come with unique calming aroma. The continent is emerging, booming, rising. The middle class is bulging. So I visited. What I saw is what you will see if you do. The headlines are true for Lagos, Accra, and Addis Ababa, but they are far from the reality in the fringes, the outskirts of the countries. Are the rising, booming, and emerging stories and editorials a hype or hope?
BLANTYRE, 9 January 2013 (IRIN) – International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde urged Malawians to stick with tough economic reforms during a recent three-day visit to the country, but measures recommended by the Fund and implemented by President Joyce Banda have been deeply unpopular with many citizens who can no longer afford basic goods and services.
Key among these measures was Banda’s decision, made soon after she took office in April 2012, to devalue the Malawian kwacha by 49 percent and untie the currency from the US dollar. The government also lifted subsidies and price controls on fuel.
The moves were designed to address chronic shortages of foreign-exchange reserves and key imports such as fuel, but they also triggered rapid inflation, which remains at 33 percent. Continue reading “MALAWI: “A Long and Hard Road Ahead”” »
UN Official Welcomes Security Council Action in Efforts Against Conflict-related Sexual Violence in DR Congo
8 January 2013 – The United Nations official dealing with conflict-related sexual violence today welcomed the Security Council’s imposition of sanctions on two armed groups active in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and 23 March Movement (M23).
“The Security Council’s sanctions committee for the DRC has led the way in focusing on crimes of sexual violence,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, added in a news release.
“I also welcome the designation of Lt. Col. Eric Badege and Jean-Marie Lugerero Runinga of M23 for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law,” she continued.
On the last day of 2012, the Security Council’s so-called ‘1533 Committee’ added the FDLR and the M23 – as well as Lt. Col. Badege and Mr. Runinga – to its list of individuals and entities subject to sanctions. Continue reading “UN Official Welcomes Security Council Action in Efforts Against Conflict-related Sexual Violence in DR Congo” »
KAMPALA, 7 January 2013 (PlusNews) – Uganda continues to fall short of achieving its goal of ensuring that 80 percent of people living with HIV receive antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) by 2015, according to the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC).
Some 62 percent of those needing HIV treatment were on ARVs in March 2012, up from 50 percent in 2010. Uganda managed to enroll an estimated 65,493 new HIV cases on life-prolonging ARVs in 2012, bringing to 356,056 the number of those receiving ARVs, according to UAC statistics.
But just 8 percent of these cases were children. A recent government survey has revealed that just 49 percent of infants in need of treatment are receiving it. (The government recommends that all HIV-positive infants under age two receive ARVs.) Some 20,000 to 24,000 children are infected with HIV each year, according to the Ministry of Health. Continue reading “Uganda Still Behind on HIV/AIDS ARV target” »
Recent gains in the fight against malaria could be reversed because funding has stalled, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
Its latest World Malaria Report says 1.1 million lives were saved in the past decade but that the expansion in funding from 2004-09 halted in 2010-12.
Less than half of the $5.1bn (£3.1bn) needed was spent last year.
The WHO’s latest figures – for 2010 – show some 219 million people were infected, with 660,000 people dying. Continue reading “WHO Says Progress in Malaria Threatened by Funding” »