International AIDS Conference Focuses On HIV Prevention, U.S. Poverty-Infection Link
Speeches and studies at the international HIV/AIDS conference, now underway in Vienna, were covered by a variety of news outlets.
The Wall Street Journal: "The global fight against HIV and AIDS is moving into a new phase as the high cost of treating millions of people is forcing governments and donors to focus more aggressively on the difficult challenge of prevention." The U.S. government has spent about $32.3 billion during the past seven years "to put record numbers of AIDS patients world-wide on life-lengthening drugs, along with some other disease efforts. But budget pressures are forcing the Obama administration to slow increases in spending on AIDS and begin reworking a program started by former U.S. President George W. Bush [known] as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. That program's attention on treatment hasn't slowed the number of new infections world-wide
Two of the main themes at the [18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna] will be how to cut the cost of treating patients while expanding efforts at preventing its spread, according to attendees" (McKay and Guth, 7/17).
Also in The Wall Street Journal: "Global funding to combat HIV/AIDS essentially flattened in 2009 as the economic crisis forced governments in major industrialized countries to scale back their contributions, according to a new report. The Group of Eight nations, the European Commission, and other donor governments donated $7.6 billion for AIDS treatment efforts in 2009, up slightly from $7.7 billion in 2008 in dollar terms but closer to flat given currency fluctuations, according to the report. [The United States] is also devoting its global health dollars to a wider number of diseases as part of a strategy to reduce maternal and child mortality. But funding from the U.S. still increased in 2009 to $4.4 billion from $3.95 billion, helping to make up for reduced donations from Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the Netherlands, the report found." The report was prepared by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (Winslow, 7/18). (KHN is a program of the foundation.)
The Associated Press: "World leaders lack the political will to ensure that everyone infected with HIV and AIDS gets treatment, the head of a meeting dedicated to the disease said Sunday. Julio Montaner - the president of the International AIDS Society and chairman of the AIDS 2010 conference - said the G-8 group of rich nations has failed to deliver on a commitment to guarantee so-called universal access and warned this could have dire consequences" (Oleksyn, 7/17).
The Guardian: "Bill Clinton yesterday called for AIDS charities to use donations from wealthy countries more efficiently and warned that too much was being spent on bureaucracy, unnecessary trips and reports that sit on shelves. Angry demonstrations against Barack Obama's failure to spend more money on AIDS, which have been held in Vienna, were not the best way forward, Clinton added" (Boseley, 7/19).
CNN: "Since the first stories about an unknown virus surfaced nearly 30 years ago, 600,000 Americans have died from HIV-AIDS. Today, one American is infected every 9.5 minutes, according to government statistics cited in President Obama's national HIV/AIDS strategy released Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 million people in the United States are living with HIV and that one in five of those is unaware of their infection" (Falco, 7/17).
The Wall Street Journal, in a third story: "The prevalence of HIV infection among heterosexuals in U.S. inner cities constitutes a generalized epidemic, a new U.S. study says. ... 2.1% of that population was infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. A major CDC study finds that poverty may account for some of the racial and ethnic disparities found in HIV prevalence rates for the overall U.S. population.
People in low-income communities lack access to medical care and spread the disease more readily because they are unaware that they are infected and therefore not being treated, the researchers said. ... 'My experience in Harlem is that HIV is at least as much a function of where you live as who you are,' said Patrick McGovern, chief executive of Harlem United Community AIDS Center Inc. in New York ... He cited a lack of access to HIV testing and treatment as major factors behind the spread of the epidemic in poor communities. 'We don't see greater promiscuity in poorer communities,' he said. 'We do see less access to diagnosis and treatment'" (Winslow and McKay, 7/18).
The Associated Press on the same study: "Health officials have long believed poverty drives HIV epidemics, but there have been few studies to back that up The results: HIV was detected in 2.4 percent of the people who were living below the federal poverty line, which in 2007 was an annual income of roughly $10,000 or less for an individual. In contrast, infections were found in 1.2 percent of people in the same neighborhoods who made more money than the federal poverty guideline" (Stobbe, 7/19).
Related KHN document: Text: National HIV/AIDS Strategy For The United StatesThis is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.