Hepatitis C: Cure and control, right now!

Hepatitis C (Hep C) is preventable
World Hepatitis Day: 28 July
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-infection occurs in an estimated one quarter of HIV-infected persons in Europe, Australia, and the United States. "As use of highly active antiretroviral drugs has markedly reduced opportunistic infections, HCV-related liver disease has emerged as a leading cause of death. HIV infection adversely affects both the natural history and the treatment of hepatitis C" said Dr David L Thomas, Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, USA. Read more

Prevent TB: IPT works, IPT is safe

TB is preventable: IPT works!
In Lesotho, Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT) to prevent latent TB infection from becoming active TB disease, is not available for ordinary citizens but only for health workers. Those people who have latent TB infection have a right to protect themselves and access IPT services to prevent latent TB from becoming active TB disease. The Global TB/HIV Working Group of the Stop TB Partnership has clearly stated that: IPT works, IPT is safe, and IPT works with ART or by itself. Read more

AIDS: Where Goes the Money?

JUST how much money are the recipients of AIDS funds putting into programmes that have a real impact on communities affected by the disease without hip- hopping around the world or engaging in endless AIDS workshops? It appears that unless there is serious public account of where exactly AIDS dollars are going, we are in for a long ride with the epidemic.

In order to make real progress in the response to AIDS, the whole concept of what money means to the response has to be rethought. Because where the money is going in many cases is doing little tochange the course of the epidemic. Except make some people rich and fat and making a glitz out of the disease.

The AIDS community in many parts of Africa is very dispassionate; there is no real anger, and the business of the day consists of filling in donor proposals and donor reports pasted with pictures ofpeople supposedly living with HIV and AIDS. The AIDS response in Africa is so air-conditioned that its ineffective: it lacks vigour for real change. Read more.

TB Cough-in/Coffin March: TB on IAC agenda as never before

(photographs): It was one of those defining moments in history of legendary AIDS activism at the International AIDS Conferences when the TB cough-in/coffin March began at the penultimate day of the XVIII International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Vienna, Austria. At least half a thousand people had assembled, with t-shirts, placards, cardboard coffins (no more TB deaths), stop TB handkerchiefs/ bandanas, vuvuzelas, drums, banners, and mascots to name a few. AIDS activism has been a cornerstone of AIDS conferences, but TB was on the IAC agenda this time, as never before. Read more


When I question why
a public bus over speeds
or cars and trucks park wrongly
most simply stare... Read more

Stop TB Partnership signs MoU with UNAIDS to improve TB-HIV responses

Marcos Espinal (L)- Michel Sidibe (R)
In a historic and a (very) long overdue moment, finally, the Stop TB Partnership signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Joint United Nations programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to work together in improving responses to TB and HIV. Marcos Espinal, Executive Secretary of the Stop TB Partnership and Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, signed the MoU today (22 July 2010), in presence of hundreds of delegates at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria. Read more

TB-HIV co-infection: Giving ART and Treating TB slow HIV progression

Dr Gabriel Chamie UCSF
The message was clear: Putting TB-HIV co-infected people on the anti-retroviral treatment (ART) do slow down HIV progression to AIDS. However ART induced immune maintenance and recovery have no difference on the outcome of anti-TB treatment in studies done in different parts of Asia and Africa, presented on second day of the XVIII International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Vienna, Austria. Read more

Spain should increase investment in tuberculosis R & D

The Spanish government was encouraged to invest in tuberculosis research and development (R&D) as part of its policy of international cooperation in health. "Spanish government should support and fund the tuberculosis (TB) research and development (R & D) because we don't have adequate health tools to face the TB pandemic globally: more effective tools are needed. Research and development is essential part of international cooperation policies," said Laia Ruiz Mingote from Planeta Salud, who had a poster discussion on this issue at the XVIII International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Vienna, Austria. Read more

Punitive laws limit access to HIV services for MSM and transgender people: UN Study

John Godwin
Listen to audio podcast here
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released a study analyzing evidence in Asia-Pacific on how punitive and discriminatory laws and human rights violations limit access to HIV prevention and care services for men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) and transgender people. The study report "Legal environments, human rights and HIV responses among men who have sex with men and transgender people in Asia and the Pacific:An agenda for action" is co-published by the UNDP and Asia Pacific Coalition for male sexual health (APCOM). Read more

Make Art, Stop AIDS

Daniel Goldstein, sculpture and artist
There are three sculptures in the hall with session rooms at the XVIII International AIDS Conference (IAC) which are bound to attract delegates. “Sometimes it gives you a way within, sometimes it gives you a way to express your emotion, sometimes it gives you a way to express what you are going through. It also gives other people a chance to know what people living with HIV are going through” said San Francisco based visual artist Daniel Goldstein. Read more

Can TB patients say "Rights Here, Right Now"?

It is beyond doubt that community-led health responses have yielded satisfying results, yet genuine involvement of affected communities in TB control, is far from optimal. Nevertheless there are significant advancements made over the past years to push TB control stakeholders to meaningfully engage TB patients at every level of the TB response. "The theme of this year's XVIII World AIDS Conference is Rights here, Rights now, and from the Roadmap of HIV/TB sessions it is very encouraging to see that the Rights of TB-HIV co-infected patients are well represented during what promises to be a very full and interesting week" said Dr Anthony Harries, Senior Advisor, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). Read more

Fund the Global Fund to save lives from AIDS, TB, Malaria: "Here I Am" ambassador

Since its inception in 2001, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM/ The Global Fund) has saved approximately 5.7 million lives, and another 4000 deaths are averted each day of people dealing with AIDS, TB and malaria. In order to continue its existing programmes and rapidly scale up towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, The Global Fund would need its donors to pledge at least USD 20 billion for the period 2011-2013 during its Replenishment conference 4-5 October 2010 in New York. With the HERE I AM campaign, civil society advocates support the resource mobilization for the Global Fund by showing its incredible impact on the ground. Read more

Developed countries stop using arm-twisting measures in FTAs

To listen to AUDIO recording, click here
In Guatemala the prices of some drugs went up by 845,000 times
The European Union’s actions are a direct threat to access to safe, effective and affordable medicines across the developing world. The European Union is demanding longer patents through free trade agreements (FTAs), longer than demanded by the World Trade Organization. Negotiations on drug price with over 90 low income countries become difficult with patents, for example, in countries like Guatemala the prices of some drugs went up by 845,000 times. Read more

Red Ribbon Express begins its Journey in Uttar Pradesh

It was a monumental event as the Red Ribbon Express rolled into Chopan a small district in Sonebhadra UP on July 17, 2010. Received with much pomp and show by both locals and the district administration, the train that carried with it messages of "zindagi zindabad" entered its first destination in UP armed with messages for a healthy and safe life for all. Read more

Only Rights Can Stop The Wrongs

9 out 0f 10 MSM/transgender do not receive any prevention, treatment, care or support services
Human rights are fundamentally applicable to all communities irrespective of their sexual orientations and unmindful of their HIV status (or for that matter any other condition). It also means 'righting the wrongs' which have been perpetrated on LGBTs by insensitive societies and archaic laws, which actually increase the vulnerability of the marginalized communities, instead of protecting them. Read more

A new TB vaccine could be ready by 2020

The current tools are not enough to control tuberculosis epidemic. The 2009 World Health Organization (WHO) Global Tuberculosis Control Report says that the incidence of TB per capita continues to go down since 2004 however the decline is just one per cent per year which implies that TB will not be eliminated for centuries if we conduct 'business as usual'. The existing BCG vaccine which came into the market in 1921, has limited effectiveness in preventing people from TB. Further, the BCG vaccine which is used to prevent childhood TB may not be safe for children living with HIV. That is why Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation and other agencies including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are pushing hard to accelerate research and development of safe and effective TB vaccines. Read more

Priority is to up collaborative TB-HIV activities

There is convincing evidence that scaling up collaborative TB-HIV activities, improve TB and HIV programme performances. “In 2008, there were an estimated 9.4 million incident TB cases globally, more than at any other time in history. Of these, there were an estimated 1.4 million who were co-infected with HIV” said Professor (Dr) Anthony Harries, Senior Adviser to International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) at the pre-conference session of the XVIII International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Vienna, Austria. "In 2008, there were 1.8 million estimated deaths from TB, of whom 0.52 million were co-infected with HIV, giving an HIV-TB case fatality rate of 37%" said Prof Harries. "The number of HIV co-infected TB cases is too high, and the number of HIV-associated TB deaths is too high" said Prof Harries. Read more

Criminalization of injecting drug users (IDU) fuels HIV epidemic

The criminalisation of illicit drug users is fuelling the HIV epidemic and has resulted in overwhelmingly negative health and social consequences. Injection drug use (IDU) is one of the main modes of HIV transmission in parts of Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. "Apart from medical harms associated with drug use, all other harms associated with drug use are a result of a state where government wanted to protect people from drug use and thus had put in place a number of laws that criminalize drug use. These laws compound the harms associated with drug use and also adversely impact the HIV epidemic," said Dr Marcus Day, Director of the Caribbean Drug Abuse Research Institute. Dr Day was speaking on high-risk behaviour among injecting drug users (IDUs), their human rights, and their inclusion in HIV prevention and treatment programmes, at a PANOS pre-conference session for journalists, in lead up to the XVIII International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Vienna, Austria. Read more

Rights Here, Right Now: Where Are They For The Gay?

The XVIII International AIDS Conference (IAC) will take place in Vienna, Austria, (18-23 July 2010). The conference theme, Rights Here, Right Now, (which also aims to address the issues of men who have sex with men (MSMs), particularly in relation to HIV/AIDS), opens in the backdrop of a rainbow of hope and despair. There are some recent cheerful tidings to pep up an otherwise gloomy scenario for this marginalized community. Read more

A childhood free from tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a major killer of children in poor countries. Over 250,000 children develop TB and every one minute two children die of TB worldwide. It has been estimated that as many as one third of the world's population is infected with TB, and an estimated 20-50% of children who live in households where an adult has active tuberculosis, become infected. "Also the power to resist TB infection is normally poor in the first 5 years of life, as the immune system is less developed. The resistance can be further reduced by malnutrition, HIV, other childhood infections and worm infestations – all too common in poor countries" said Professor (Dr) Surya Kant, from Pulmonary Medicine department at CSM Medical University (erstwhile King George's Medical College - KGMC). Good words of caution before the XVIII International AIDS Conference (IAC) opens in Vienna, Austria next week. Read more

Turning the Page to a New Era in HIV Prevention Research

AVAC Report warns promising developments in biomedical HIV prevention could be undermined by current conditions of the global AIDS response 
A new report from AVAC surveys the state of biomedical HIV prevention research, including the first evidence of vaccine-induced protection in humans and the emergence of ARV-based prevention—and provides strategic recommendations for moving forward in a time of constrained resources and faltering commitment to ending AIDS. Turning the Page, AVAC’s 13th annual report on the state of the HIV prevention research field, offers unique context and a timely critique for issues that will be center stage at the upcoming XVIII International AIDS  Conference (IAC) in Vienna, Austria. These issues are also central to the AIDS response outlined in the first ever US National HIV/AIDS Strategy, released on 13th of July 2010. Read more

Another HIV+ woman commits suicide: Will XVIII IAC address stigma?

Just a week before the world's largest AIDS Conference opens in Vienna, Austria, yet another woman has committed suicide on being told of her HIV positive status. The XVIII International AIDS Conference (XVIII IAC) will open next week on the theme of "Rights Here, Right Now." Wish if this yet another death due to HIV related stigma and discrimination could be averted. However, will the XVIII IAC adequately set the stage for improving HIV responses in the community so that no other person dies due to HIV related stigma? Read more

Red Ribbon Express: On track to good health

It's called the express of hope. After completing a successful run through 100 districts in the state of Tamil Nadu educating and sensitizing over 75000 people about HIV/AIDS and health, The Red Ribbon Express is now Uttar Pradesh bound. As the World's largest AIDS Conference opens in Vienna, Austria next week (XVIII International AIDS Conference - IAC), the largest multimedia, multi-sectoral mass mobilization campaign launched so far - the Red Ribbon Express, is all set to chug through 17 districts of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and dispel myths and fears about the disease, and also spread awareness on treatment, care and support for people living with HIV (PLHIV). Read more

Prof Rama Kant awarded FRCSI by Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

Professor (Dr) Rama Kant was conferred upon the Fellowship by Special Election of the prestigious Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (FRCSI) on 12 July 2010. The Council of the Royal College of Surgeons at its meeting on 10th June 2010, elected Prof Rama Kant as a Fellow by Special Election in accordance with Charter bye-laws, and ordinances. Read more

Exclusive breastfeeding can save 22.3% infant deaths

1-7 August 2010: World Breastfeeding Week
Statistics state that 270,000 infants born in Uttar Pradesh (UP) die in the first month of their birth and every sixth malnutrition child lives in UP. "The grim situation of infant mortality and child malnutrition can be changed overnight if every pregnant woman in the state ensure that her newborn gets mother's milk in the first hour of birth," said Dr KP Kushwaha. A paediatrician and a great advocate of breastfeeding, Dr Kushwaha, Head of the Department of Paediatrics, BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur, was addressing media persons at the monthly Media for Children hosted jointly by Media Nest and UNICEF at the Uttar Pradesh Press Club on every second Saturday afternoon. Read more

APCOM to tackle HIV among MSM and transgender people in Asia Pacific

The Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) has moved from an interim governance structure to one incorporating a Governing Board and an Executive Director, considerably strengthening its capacity to address a sharp rise in HIV infection in men who have sex with men and transgender populations across the region. At the same time, APCOM's key donor, HIVOS, has announced a renewal of its commitment to APCOM for another three years and at an increase of 50% for core costs. Read more

Celebrating Diversity And Inclusiveness In The Age Of Consent

One year ago, on July 2nd 2009, a Delhi High Court division bench of Chief Justice AP Shah and Justice S Muralidhar said "We declare that Section 377 IPC, insofar it criminalizes consensual sexual acts of adults in private, is violative of Articles 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution." It upheld one of the primary principles of natural justice, 'right to consent' and restored the dignity and rights of millions of those whose existence in the society was not even acknowledged. Needless to say that while it was a result of a long struggle by a lot of people that a judgement of this kind came in, and that is not a mean achievement, however, implementation of this is important. Just having a law is not enough. Read more

James Connolly Committed to Accelerating the Development of New Vaccines to Prevent TB

Aeras(TM)The Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation today announced that James E. Connolly has been named President and Chief Executive Officer. He joins Aeras after a career in the pharmaceutical industry, most recently as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Wyeth Vaccines. He will take over as Aeras President and CEO on August 9, 2010. Read more

Kandhamal lesson: A stitch in time saves Nine

29th June 2010 must be considered an important day in the history of Indian judicial system. Not that some new law was promulgated on that day nor was any new judicial body set up. There was not even a major judicial structural change as well. Yet, what happened that day is something that would go a long way in restoring our faith in Indian socio-political structure. At the same time, it would help redeem the respect of Indian populace for our judicial system. It is on this date that in Kandhamal district Orissa, an important judgment was delivered that went on to sentence the powerful local politician and MLA from an important political party in matters related with communal riots. Read more