Posts Tagged ‘World AIDS Day’

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: Get Health Research Funding Back on Track

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Dear Research Advocate,

With all eyes on the supercommittee you may have lost track of the stalled appropriations process. Two months into the fiscal year, Congress has not passed the nine remaining appropriations bills, including the LHHS bill, which contains funding for NIH, CDC and AHRQ. The House and Senate have not yet conferenced; they are miles apart in their approaches. While it is possible that Congress will bundle an omnibus appropriations bill in the next two weeks, the odds of this happening are diminishing by the day.

There is speculation that yet another continuing resolution will be enacted to take the government from December 16 through January 2012. During this ongoing period of uncertainty for agency budgets, cuts are being made to many funded research projects already in progress. We’re wasting time and money, with a new round of administrative actions resulting from each continuing resolution. Time to tell Congress: Let’s just pass the bill and get the research done! Patients are waiting; highly-trained scientists are reconsidering their career paths. What will you do to be heard? Prof. Kerri Mowen of the Scripps Research Institute has launched a petition to increase funding for the National Institutes of Health. Sign on to the petition TODAY and make your voice heard. After you sign, be sure to share with your networks.

Also on our radar, and hopefully yours: election season. I’m sure you agree that it is critical to get research on the agenda of the presidential candidates. George Vradenburg, co-founder of USAgainstAlzheimer’s and Joel Maiola, former chief of staff to Sen. Judd Gregg, published a guest commentary in the Nashua Telegraph. The piece describes how Alzheimer’s disease has finally begun to emerge as a campaign issue, given that the disease has placed an overwhelming burden on our health and our health care system. Fortunately, “… more and more candidates are discussing Alzheimer’s as a national campaign issue.” But not enough are doing so as yet. As advocates, we all should be working to raise the visibility of health research in the presidential election. Please take a moment to urge candidates to participate in our Your Candidates–Your Health questionnaire. Send a message to the campaigns TODAY and ask them to respond. And write an op-ed for your local newspaper. If we want to protect and grow medical research funding, we cannot let up.

Today, December 1, World Aids Day provides a perfect opportunity to craft an op-ed or letter to the editor celebrating progress to date – AIDS is no longer an automatic death sentence – and pointing out that it was the nation’s longstanding investment in research that changed everything 20 years ago. More research now can get us across the finish line and eradicate this scourge. With the science so close, this is not the time to make cuts.

Sincerely,

Mary Woolley

World AIDS Day 2011: A Reminder of the Challenges Ahead

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

As we commemorate World AIDS Day today, the global health community recognizes remarkable progress in treatment and prevention in the past three years while acknowledging the challenges that remain in the fight against AIDS. For example, although the rates of newly infected people have declined over the past decade and access to treatment rates has increased, the former still greatly outpaces the latter. For those the World Health Organization have deemed sick enough to require urgent treatment, only about half actually receive care. Still, UNAIDS reports that the “unparalleled global response of the past decade has already forced the epidemic into decline,” with a decrease in AIDS-related deaths amid “unprecedented funding” for HIV programs.

UNAIDS, the United Nations agency devoted to providing universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care, reported over Thanksgiving that rates of new HIV infection have been steady over the past five years, with approximately 2.7 million newly infected people each year. In 33 countries, rates of new infection have declined; it is hoped that future rates of infection may be even lower, as a breakthrough study this year found that treatment reduced transmission from an infected person to their non-infected partner by as much as 96%. In Central Asia and Eastern Europe, however, the number of people living with HIV rose 250% during 2001-2010, and death rates continue to rise there even as they stabilize in other regions.

Progress continues to be made in the search for an HIV vaccine. The discovery of 17 unique antibodies with rare protective abilities against HIV by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and its partners earlier this year is one such success story, as scientists believe that this finding will be instrumental in creating an HIV vaccine.

While these developments are promising, sustained funding for HIV treatment may be adversely affected by the struggling global economy. For example, three days after the release of the UNAIDS annual report, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced that it would not be funding new grant programs until 2014.

As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in her speech on creating an “AIDS-free generation” earlier this month at the National Institutes of Health, setting such an ambitious goal may have been “unimaginable” in the past. But the knowledge and technologies we have today have given us the “route we need to take” to seize this historical opportunity in the fight against AIDS.

With an estimated 34 million people worldwide living with HIV, this year’s commemoration of World AIDS Day – 30 years since the discovery of HIV – reminds us of the scope and impact this pandemic has had on countless lives, the hope for new preventive measures and ultimately a cure, and the hard challenges that lie ahead to provide adequate prevention and treatment to all who require it.

For a CNN slideshow on “30 Years of AIDS Moments to Remember,” click here.

Wednesday is World AIDS Day

Monday, November 29th, 2010

December 1 is World AIDS Day, and the Department of Health and Human Services is featuring its AIDS-related resources on a special webpage to mark the day.

The features include the Facing AIDS initiative, which aims to reduce the stigma of HIV and promote testing for AIDS. There are also quick ways to find nearby testing locations – and even a widget to include on your website that lets visitors find locations convenient for them.

There are also posters, logos, fact sheets and reading materials to help promote awareness of the disease. There’s also a link to the World AIDS Campaign, which is also participating in World AIDS Day and has even more resources.

For those of you in the Twitterverse, HHS recommends using the hashtag #WAD2010 for all of your World AIDS Day tweets.