Viable Group A Streptococci In Macrophages During Acute Soft Tissue Infection

This study shows that that group A streptococci survive intracellularly in macrophages during acute invasive infections; the streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin SpeB may have a role in this survival.

Citation: Thulin P, Johansson L, Low DE, Gan BS, Kotb M, et al.
(2006) Viable group A streptococci in macrophages during acute soft tissue infection. PLoS Med 3(3): e53.

LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE:
dx.doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030053

All works published in PLoS Biology are open access. Everything is immediately available – to read, download, redistribute, include in databases, and otherwise use – without cost to anyone, anywhere, subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.

SOURCE: www.plosbiology Continue reading

Protein From The Wrong Side Of The Tracks Aids Cancer Virus

A protein made by a cancer-causing virus using an unusual gene enables that virus to infect immune cells and persist in the host, new research shows.
The study examines the function of a protein called HBZ, which is made by the human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), a retrovirus and a distant cousin to HIV, the cause of AIDS.

The findings indicate that HBZ enhanced the ability of HTLV-1 to establish a persistent infection in an animal host. The study by researchers with the Ohio State University Comprehensive Center and the College of Veterinary Medicine is published in the May issue of the journal Blood.

The gene that gives rise to HBZ is unusual because it lies on the wrong side of the virus’s DNA molecule. Such genes are known as antisense genes, and they have been observed in only a few retroviruses, including HIV.

A DNA molecule is somewhat like a railroad track that is twisted into a double helix. The two rails correspond to the complementary strands of the DNA backbone, while the ties correspond to the chemical base pairs that hold the two strands together and encode genetic information.

Normally, that genetic information is encoded only along one DNA “rail,” or strand. That strand is called the sense strand. The opposite strand is the antisense strand, and it generally carries no genetic information.

But HTLV-1 is a rare exception. Of its eight genes, (some of which have information for more than one protein), seven lie along the sense strand. The eighth, which encodes the HBZ gene, is on the antisense strand (where it lies across from portions of three genes on the sense strand).

“Encoding a gene on the antisense strand is one more way for a small, compact virus to pack more genetic information or genes into a very small space, and it is why viruses like HTLV and HIV are called complex retroviruses,” says principal investigator Patrick L. Green, professor of veterinary biosciences and of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, and a Comprehensive Cancer Center researcher.

“Our study is the first to show that this novel protein is important for survival of the virus, which suggests that a drug that targets it might disrupt viral replication and provide a new therapy for infected people.”

Some 15 to 25 million people are infected with HTLV-1 worldwide, and 1 to 4 percent of them will eventually develop adult T-cell leukemia or lymphoma, a cancer that responds poorly to treatment and that can cause death within six months. In others, it causes a crippling and painful autoimmune-like disorder, tropical spastic paraparesis.

For this study, Green and his collaborators first looked at how loss of the HBZ protein affected the virus’s ability to infect and survive in its normal host immune cell, human T lymphocytes, or T cells, growing in culture.

They found little difference between the HBZ mutant HTLV and the normal virus. Both infected the cells and immortalized them equally well.

(Normally, T cells in culture die within a week or two. When the same cells are infected with HTLV-1, however, the virus causes changes that extend their life span indefinitely.)

Next, the scientists tested the ability of the mutant virus to infect and persist in a rabbit model, one of the few animals that duplicates human HTLV-1 infection. Those results indicated that the HBZ protein was required for prolonged infection in the body.

After eight weeks, rabbits that were infected with virus that lacked HBZ had one to 10 copies of the virus per 1,000 lymphocytes, whereas rabbits infected with normal virus had 50 to 100 HTLV-1 copies per 1,000 lymphocytes.

The virus may not survive well without HBZ because the immune system readily destroys cells infected by these viruses, Green says.

“We believe that HBZ acts as a brake on viral replication,” he says. “Without HBZ, the virus replicates too fast, producing its proteins so quickly that the immune system readily detects infected cells and eliminates them.”

Green and his colleagues are now testing that hypothesis.

###

Funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases supported this research.

Contact: Darrell E. Ward, Medical Center Communications, or Darrell.Wardosumc.edu

Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Ohio State University Continue reading

Ask The Experts On World Aids Day – What Does The Future Hold For AIDS?

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is hosting an event on World Aids Day, bringing together some of the world’s leading experts on the pandemic, to discuss future projections for the AIDS pandemic.

The panel speakers are as follows:

Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and former Executive Director of UNAIDS

The session will be moderated by Heidi Larson, Director of aids2031, an independent consortium set up by UNAIDS in 2007 and consisting of partners experienced in AIDS research, policymaking and programme implementation. The consortium was charged with bringing new thinking to a pandemic that is still growing despite great investments and efforts at control. Its focus has been to look at what should be done differently now to radically reduce the numbers of infections and deaths by 2031, the year that will mark 50 years since AIDS was first reported.

The session will also feature a preview of the forthcoming aids2031 book AIDS: Taking a long-term view published by FT Science Press and available from 13 December.

When: 12.30-2.00 pm, 1 December 2010, John Snow Lecture Hall, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT

Future projections
Geoffrey Garnett, Professor, Imperial College London, UK, chair of the aids2031 Modelling Group
Justin Parkhurst, Lecturer in Health Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, aids2031 Working Group on Social Drivers
Alvaro Bermejo, Executive Director, International AIDS Alliance, aids2031 working group on Financing and costing
Peter Colenso, Head of Human Development Department, Policy Division, DFID

Source:
Lindsay Wright

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Continue reading

Richardson Releases HIV/AIDS Plan

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, on Saturday released a plan to address HIV/AIDS issues domestically and abroad. According to a release, Richardson’s plan would focus on “evidence-based prevention, providing quality and affordable treatment” and “renewing” the U.S. “commitment to research.” To address HIV/AIDS worldwide, Richardson’s plan would commit funding for prevention, treatment and care programs, as well as efforts to reduce the number of HIV-positive people who die from tuberculosis. Richardson also would call on the International Monetary Fund to cancel 100% of the debt owed by developing countries. In addition, the plan would aim to “protect the rights of women and children to reduce the risk that they will become infected,” Richardson said (Richardson release, 12/1).

According to Richardson’s Web site, the plan would commit $1 billion annually to CDC for the “development and implementation of evidence-based, culturally appropriate prevention strategies that address the changing face of HIV/AIDS” in the U.S. In addition, the plan would call for NIH’s budget to be doubled over 10 years and would support efforts to increase HIV testing in the U.S. The plan also would allow states to expand Medicaid to cover HIV treatment at earlier stages and fully fund the Ryan White Program (Richardson Web site, 12/4). Richardson earlier this year signed a pledge to commit to investing $50 billion by 2013 to fight HIV/AIDS domestically and worldwide (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/30).

Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

Namibia Law Banning Male-to-Male Sex Is Hindering Condom Distribution, HIV Prevention In Prisons, Advocates Say

A 30-year-old law in Namibia banning male-to-male sex is preventing condom distribution in the country’s prisons and hindering HIV prevention efforts, according to HIV/AIDS advocates, South Africa’s Mail & Guardian reports. According to government officials, condom distribution would promote sex between men, which is outlawed under the 1977 Criminal Procedures Act. Ignatius Mainga, a spokesperson for the country’s Ministry of Safety and Security’s prison services, said, “By giving (prisoners) a condom, you are telling them to go ahead and do it.” Mainga added that the “majority” of cases involving men who have sex with men in prison are consensual and that inmates do not want condoms because they do not “want to be seen as having sex with other men.” However, Michaela Hubscle, former deputy minister at the now-closed Ministry of Prisons and Correctional Services, said instances of rape still occur between men in prison and condoms are needed to protect inmates. “We are sitting on a time bomb. The prevalence rate will increase if we do not protect those who enter prison (HIV-)negative and those who are positive from reinfection,” Hubscle said (Tibinyane, Mail & Guardian, 1/4).

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . ¬© 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

Stopping Harmful Oral Bacteria In Its Path Is Goal For Case Western Reserve Researcher

The best way to keep bacteria from doing any damage is to stop them in their tracks before they can start down their pathological road to destruction.

Yiping Han, associate professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, aims to understand how to build roadblocks for a common bacterium that’s harmless in a mother’s mouth but can turn deadly when it reaches an unborn child. She has received a five-year, $1.85 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at the National Institutes of Health to fund the effort.

This is Han’s second NIDCR RO1 award. She’s published more than 10 papers from previous research related to the bacterium, Fusobacterium nucleatum, that creates havoc once it leaves the mouth and enters the blood stream.

She has discovered an adhesin protein molecule, called FadA, in the genes of F. nucleatum. This adhesin, or binding agent, on the bacteria allows them to connect with receptors on epithelial cells in the mouth and later the endothelial cells of the placenta.

In tests, bacteria without FadA had less binding capability compared to those with the adhesin, Han and a team of researchers report on this finding in the July issue of the journal Infection and Immunity.

“With this new grant, we will be able to continue a functional analysis of FadA,” said Han. Her research group will look not only at the binding agent but the receptors on the host epithelial and endothelial cells that promote the binding of the oral bacteria.

“In some way, the receptors on the host cell activate a signal that puts into action a cascade of processes that allow the bacteria to penetrate the epithelial and endothelial linings and then colonize,” explains Han.

“We want to block the bacteria before it can do any damage,” Han says. “It’s an upstream approach to go back to where the whole process begins and stop it from starting its destruction.”

Once it leaves the mouth, the invasion of the bacteria through the placenta allows the bacteria to multiple rapidly in the immune-free environment that protects the fetus from being rejected by the mother’s body. The rapid bacterial growth causes the placenta to become inflamed. In turn, the inflammation can trigger preterm birth and fetal death.

According to Han this research into the mechanisms of bacterial transport not only has potential to prevent preterm and stillborn births, it may have implications in preventing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has been linked to such health problem as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

Source:
Susan Griffith
Case Western Reserve University Continue reading

GlaxoSmithKline Statement Lancet Publication Of D:A:D Data

Data published in the Lancet from the Data Collection on Adverse Events of Anti-HIV Drugs (D:A:D) suggest a possible association between anti-retroviral therapy (ART) regimens that contain abacavir and an increased risk of myocardial infarction. Conversely, analyses of GlaxoSmithKline data show no increased risk of myocardial infarction associated with abacavir.

“The D:A:D findings are unexpected, since we have not seen similar findings in our studies, and we are unaware of any potential biological mechanism that would explain them. In our own analysis of trials involving more than 9,600 patients, no increased risk of heart attack associated with abacavir was found. It is important to note that although the relative risk of heart attack risk seen in the D:A:D study was increased in patients who had recently taken abacavir, the likelihood of an individual patient having a heart attack remains low in absolute terms. Abacavir remains an important treatment option for patients with HIV and patients should not discontinue treatment on their own,” said Didier Lapierre, Vice President of Clinical Development for Infectious Diseases at GlaxoSmithKline.

GSK data

GSK has analysed the company’s internal databases, which include information from external post marketing surveillance reports and data from 54 clinical trials with more than 14,000 patients, over 9,600 of whom were on abacavir. The analysis of GSK data shows no increased risk of myocardial infarction associated with abacavir. In addition, GSK is not aware of any confirmed increased risk of myocardial infarction with abacavir in the published literature.

No biological mechanism linking abacavir treatment with myocardial infarction has so far been identified. GSK believes that in totality, the data on the association of myocardial infarction with abacavir treatment are inconclusive at this time.

In recent years, GSK has increased the focus of our HIV research efforts, including initiating studies that identify and analyse risk factors and potential drug toxicities. GSK regards this as a critical part of establishing and maintaining drug safety and several studies have been performed and others are ongoing focusing on the long term safety impact of abacavir.

D:A:D database findings

Accumulated observational data were sufficient for the D:A:D to analyse five commonly used nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs): zidovudine, didanosine, stavudine, lamivudine and abacavir. No analyses were conducted evaluating the risk of myocardial infarction among patients taking tenofovir or emtricitabine, two other drugs in the class of NRTIs

Overall, the data cited by the D:A:D are uncommon events: 6.1 events/1000 patient years among patients who had taken abacavir in the last 6 months versus 2.6 events/1000 patient years for those who had not (a difference of 3.5 events per 1000 patient years). By comparison to this doubling of relative risk, smoking can increase a person’s risk of heart attack by two or three times, while high cholesterol can increase the risk of heart attack further. As the D:A:D position paper states, for patients who smoke: “??¬¶stopping smoking would do more to reduce the risk of having a heart attack and other serious diseases more than by stopping abacavir:”

Observational studies can provide important information given their size and scope, but because they analyse patient experience in a real-life setting, they are subject to more variables than scientifically controlled clinical trials. It is important that findings of observational studies are confirmed with other data, and that reasons for any potential link between drug and effect be identified.

Regulatory Status

Importantly, on March 27, 2008, the US Federal Drugs Administration (FDA) stated that they currently believe the analyses conducted by the D:A:D are incomplete. They also indicate that the results of the GSK analysis are inconclusive, but did not show an increased risk. They are considering, but have not concluded, whether any regulatory action is warranted. In addition, the FDA stressed the risks of switching patients’ treatment without proper individual assessment, urging caution. The EMEA is also reviewing the D:A:D data and will post their findings in the near future.

Implications for managing HIV

HIV is a serious, life-threatening disease, and a number of factors go into choosing the right therapy. Therefore, GSK believes that:

- Patients should NOT discontinue treatment on their own.

- Although the D:A:D study data suggest a relative risk increase in heart attack risk associated with abacavir, that risk remains low in absolute terms, and therefore abacavir remains an important treatment option for those patients.

- The total patient profile including comorbidities, concomitant medications, previous retroviral experience, as well as the underlying risk of coronary heart disease should be considered when prescribing HIV antiretroviral therapy, including abacavir. Action should be taken to minimize modifiable cardiovascular risk factors in all patients (e.g. hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus and smoking) in line with current guidelines.

About HAART theory

Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) has revolutionized HIV treatment and dramatically extended the lifespan of HIV patients. The NRTI class, including abacavir, remains a cornerstone of HIV therapy; approximately 25% of HIV patients on HAART take abacavir as a proven medicine effective in treating HIV. For patients who have failed previous therapy, abacavir may be an essential part of treatment.

As with all medicines, doctors and patients must weigh the risks of the disease against the risks and benefits of the medicines available to treat it. Certain risks may be able to be managed as part of standard HIV patient care.

About GlaxoSmithKline

GlaxoSmithKline is one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies. GlaxoSmithKline is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For company information visit gsk. Continue reading

Bird flu statistics 1959-2003

Previous outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza worldwide

1959 Scotland, chicken, H5N1

1963 England, turkey, H7N3

1966 Ontario (Canada), turkey, H5N9

1976 Victoria (Australia), chicken, H7N7

1979 Germany, chicken, H7N7

1979 England, turkey, H7N7

1983-1985 Pennsylvania (USA)*, chicken, turkey, H5N2

1983 Ireland, turkey, H5N8

1985 Victoria (Australia), chicken, H7N7

1991 England, turkey, H5N1

1992 Victoria (Australia), chicken, H7N3

1994 Queensland (Australia), chicken, H7N3

1994-1995 Mexico*, chicken, H5N2

1994 Pakistan*, chicken, H7N3

1997 New South Wales (Australia), chicken, H7N4

1997 Hong Kong (China)*, chicken, H5N1

1997 Italy, chicken, H5N2

1999-2000 Italy*, turkey, H7N1

2002Hong Kong (China), chicken, H5N1

2002 Chile, chicken, H7N3

2003 Netherlands*, chicken, H7N7

*Outbreaks with significant spread to numerous farms, resulting in great economic losses. Most other outbreaks involved little or no spread from the initially infected farms.

Observations from previous outbreaks (1959-2003)

Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza can be extremely difficult to control, even under favourable conditions (concentration of infected birds in well-maintained commercial production facilities, limited geographical occurrence).

- The 1983 Pennsylvania (USA) outbreak took two years to control. Some 17 million birds were destroyed at a direct cost of US$62 million. Indirect costs have been estimated at more than US$250 million.

- The 2003 outbreak in the Netherlands spread to Belgium and Germany. In the Netherlands, more than 30 million birds – a quarter of the country’s poultry stock – were destroyed. Some 2.7 million were destroyed in Belgium, and around 400,000 in Germany.

In the Netherlands, 89 humans were infected, of whom one (a veterinarian) died. In that outbreak, measures needed to protect the health of poultry workers, farmers, and persons visiting farms included wearing of protective clothing, masks to cover the mouth and nose, eye protection, vaccination against normal seasonal human influenza, and administration of prophylactic antiviral drugs.

Control is even more difficult in countries with dense poultry populations.

- The Italian outbreak of 1999-2000 caused infection in 413 flocks, including 25 backyard flocks, and resulted in the destruction of around 14 million birds. Control was complicated by the occurrence of cases in areas with extremely dense poultry populations. Compensation to farmers amounted to US$63 million. Costs for the poultry and associated industry have been estimated at US$620 million. Four months after the last outbreak ended, the virus returned in a low-pathogenic form, rapidly causing a further 52 outbreaks.

- Although the last outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Mexico occurred in 1995, the causative agent – the H5N2 strain – has never been entirely eliminated from the country, in its present low-pathogenicity form, despite years of intense efforts, including the administration of more than 2 billion doses of vaccines of varying efficacy. Similarly, the vaccination policy pursued in Pakistan does not appear to have resulted in eradication of the causative agent.

Avoidance of contact between poultry and wild birds, especially ducks and other waterfowl, can help prevent the introduction of a low-pathogenicity virus into domestic flocks. Though no evidence to date has conclusively linked the current outbreaks with wild migratory birds in Asia:
- Several of these outbreaks have been linked to contact between free-ranging flocks and wild birds, including the shared use of water sources. Faecal contamination of water supplies is considered a very efficient way for waterfowl to transmit the virus. Virus (low-pathogenicity) has been readily recovered from lakes and ponds where migratory birds congregate.
- An especially risky practice is the raising of small numbers of domestic ducks on a pond in proximity to domestic chicken and turkey flocks. Domestic ducks attract wild ducks, and provide a significant link in the chain of transmission from wild birds to domestic flocks.

Aggressive control measures, including culling of infected and exposed poultry, are recommended for avian influenza virus subtypes H5 and H7 even when the virus initially shows low pathogenicity. (H5 and H7 are the only subtypes implicated in outbreaks of highly pathogenic disease.)

- Several of the largest outbreaks (Pennsylvania, Mexico, Italy) initially began with mild illness in poultry. When the virus was allowed to continue circulating in poultry, it eventually mutated (within 6 to 9 months) into a highly pathogenic form with a mortality ratio approaching 100%. Moreover, the initial presence of low-pathogenicity virus in these outbreaks complicated diagnosis of the highly pathogenic form. Continue reading

Rep. Hyde Suggests More Global AIDS Funding Be Shifted To Groups Promoting Abstinence

Rep Henry Hyde (R-Ill) on Wednesday urged the Bush administration to direct more resources from the… President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to groups promoting abstinence and away from those promoting condom use as an HIV/AIDS prevention method, VOA News reports (Robinson, VOA News, 4/13). Hyde made the suggestion during a House International Relations Committee hearing on PEPFAR — a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to 15 focus countries (CQ HealthBeat, 4/13). The law (HR 1298) authorizing PEPFAR endorses the “ABC” HIV prevention model, which stands for abstinence, be faithful, use condoms. The measure also specifies that one-third of the bill’s HIV/AIDS prevention funding should be used for abstinence programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/22/04). However, Hyde said during the hearing that groups “best suited to promote A and B programs, such as faith-based and indigenous organizations, are often not the ones implementing these programs. Instead, organizations long-associated with the social marketing of condoms are given much of the funding for AB programs. This must not continue” (VOA News, 4/13). Martin Ssempa, director of Uganda’s Makerere Youth Ministry and a representative of the Ugandan First Lady’s AIDS Task Force, at the hearing said that the U.S. Agency for International Development and CDC are undermining the country’s ABC prevention program through “what he calls a tilt toward condom distribution,” according to CQ HealthBeat. Ssempa said that the social marketing of condoms “encourages sexual promiscuity,” CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 4/13). “I mince no words when I address my fellow Ugandans every day, and I mince no words with you. The reason why other Africans and Ugandans are dying is because of sexual promiscuity,” Ssempa said, adding, “That is what is killing us.”

Sexual Coercion
Geeta Rao Gupta, president of the International Center for Research on Women, said that the ABC model alone is inadequate to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic, especially in Africa, where nearly 57% of HIV cases are among women and girls, VOA News reports. “This inexorable rise in infections among women demands special attention and immediate action, action that must go beyond the ABC approach,” Rao Gupta said, adding, “That approach, while necessary to contain the AIDS epidemic, is not sufficient to address the underlying vulnerabilities that contribute to women’s risk of infection” (VOA News, 4/13). Hyde suggested that a fourth component be added to the ABC model to address sexual coercion, which he said is a “vastly underreported” source of HIV transmission. Funding policies “must include a D for defending the rights of the vulnerable,” Hyde said, adding, “We must expand programs to deter violence against women and children that leads to HIV transmission.” Although some women might be “committed” to abstinence or monogamy, Hyde added that they are still at risk of infection because of sexual coercion or the “promiscuous sexual behavior of their husbands,” according to CQ HealthBeat.

Lack of Health Care Workers
U.S. policy also must address the shortage of health care workers to administer antiretroviral therapy, Hyde said, adding that the dearth of health workers is a “far greater impediment” to treatment access than the cost of drugs, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 4/13). According to an analysis by the Joint Learning Initiative — a consortium of more than 100 health care leaders — that was published in the Nov. 27, 2004, issue of the journal Lancet, approximately four million health care workers are needed in order to effectively fight diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and TB in developing nations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/29/04). Holly Burkhalter, U.S. policy director for Physicians for Human Rights, in written testimony said that Congress and the Bush administration should implement a “Global Health Workforce Initiative” to help highly affected countries hire and retain African health care workers. Hyde added that he supports shifting the PEPFAR goal of treating two million people with antiretroviral drugs by 2008 to having two million people “treated by their own citizens in their own country” by that date, according to CQ HealthBeat (CQ HealthBeat, 4/13).

Reaction
“Today women and girls represent more than half of those infected with HIV worldwide,” Jodi Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, said, adding, “Yet the Bush administration is actively dismantling effective prevention programs in the very places where women and girls are most at risk. It is time we realize that marriage is not a protective factor against HIV, … a fact that PEPFAR ignores” (CHANGE release, 4/13). Anita Smith, president of the Children’s AIDS Fund, said, “Americans don’t realize what an impact our dollars are having on the ground thanks to the President’s Emergency Plan. We are so used to the grinding slowness of government action in this country that we don’t understand how immediate the impact can be of a program like this. … We applaud [U.S. Ambassador Randall] Tobias and his staff in their efforts to jump start this massive program in a way that has yielded significant and tangible results” (CAF release, 4/13).

Waxman Letter
In related news, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Wednesday sent a letter to the Department of Justice opposing a Bush administration policy requiring U.S. HIV/AIDS organizations seeking funding to provide services in other countries to make a pledge opposing commercial sex work (CQ HealthBeat, 4/13). Under the policy, even groups whose HIV/AIDS work in other countries has nothing to do with commercial sex workers will have to make a written pledge opposing commercial sex work or risk losing federal funding. In addition, the Bush administration might refuse to fund HIV/AIDS groups that do not accept Bush’s agenda on issues such as sexual abstinence (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/28). “It would be easy to demonize anyone who complains about the administration’s new policy as a ‘supporter of prostitution,’” Waxman wrote, adding, “But the fact that prostitution is a dangerous practice does not make the new policy right.” He added that the policy also limits constitutional free speech rights, according to CQ HealthBeat. Although the federal government has the right to limit how organizations use federal money, “what is new is the decision by the administration to require American organizations to adopt a policy explicitly opposing prostitution as a condition of receiving a grant,” the letter said, adding, “Until now, the free-speech provisions of the U.S. Constitution have been understood as prohibiting the government from requiring American organizations to sign pledges to support specific government policies. Once a precedent is established, a variety of unconstitutional speech restrictions and policy requirements on U.S. organizations may follow” (CQ HealthBeat, 4/13).

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork/dailyreports/hiv.. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . ¬© 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

Mozambique Should Increase Number Of People With Antiretroviral Access To Boost Fight Against Disease, Advocate Says

Mozambique should amplify its efforts to fight HIV/AIDS by increasing the number of people with access to antiretroviral drugs, Cesar Mufanequico, coordinator for the country’s Antiretroviral Treatment Access Movement, said in a recent interview with Radio Mozambique, the SAPA/Sunday Times reports.

UNAIDS in a report released in April estimated that at least 230,000 people living with the disease in Mozambique are in need of antiretroviral access. According to the report, although the Mozambican government did not meet its target of providing 55,000 people, including 3,500 children, with treatment access by the end of 2006, there have been “some improvements.”

According to Mufanequico, the government provides antiretroviral access to about 44,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country who need the drugs. Mufanequico — speaking ahead of the global week on access to antiretrovirals, which is scheduled for May 20 to May 26 — urged the government to increase drug access in the country. According to SAPA/Times, Mozambique expects to receive $300 million this year from the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank and the Clinton Foundation (SAPA/Sunday Times, 5/10).

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading