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AIDS Experts Applaud Administration's Goal of an AIDS-Free Generation, Encourage Action World AIDS Day 2011 Statement and Press Availability

The following statement was issued by the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Center for Global Health Policy - co-chaired by Kenneth H. Mayer, MD, of Fenway Health/Harvard Medical School and Carol Dukes Hamilton, MD, of FHI 360/Duke University - in commemoration of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2011.

November 28, 2011 (WASHINGTON) - The theme this World AIDS Day, "Leading with Science - Uniting for Action," sends a powerful message - science can show us the way to effectively act and begin to end the AIDS pandemic, which still claims the lives of 1.7 million people every year while another 2.7 million become newly infected with HIV.

Exciting scientific advances have been made this year in the field of HIV prevention with the use of antiretrovirals. The HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study has demonstrated that early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV-infected persons is more than 96 percent effective at protecting their sexual partners from infection and markedly reduces development of tuberculosis (TB), the number one killer of people living with HIV globally. Other trials have recently shown that oral medication as well as topical gels containing antiretroviral medication can also help to protect uninfected people against acquiring HIV. Along with the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision, and other potent prevention tools, we now have a toolbox that if scaled-up, could begin to end the AIDS pandemic.

Not only do we have strong science that shows that treatment is prevention, we also have the health care service delivery platforms (e.g. new infrastructure in resource-limited communities), which the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program has helped to build, to strategically take these efforts to the scale needed to stop new infections, to ultimately end AIDS. Our efforts have grown increasingly efficient, with treatment costs now down to $335 per person per year, a decrease of nearly 70 percent from just seven years ago, and additional cost savings measures are being instituted regularly. What is more, with research now showing that investing in effective treatment is in fact prevention, we are getting twice the "bang" for our bucks - improving the lives of those on treatment, getting them back to work and back to caring for their families, with the added benefit of protecting their partners from infection. While some are asking how we can afford to continue such investments, we ask how we could afford not to redouble our increasingly effective efforts.

Increasing our commitment to treating those with HIV/AIDS also presents an opportunity to change the course of the global tuberculosis (TB) epidemic. Since these two diseases go hand-in-hand throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa, we need to ensure we improve detection of tuberculosis among those with HIV, and rapidly initiate tuberculosis treatment for those who test positive and preventive therapy for those who test negative. Moreover, the most potent protection from TB we can offer our patients with HIV infection is ART, which reduces their risk of developing TB by two-thirds. New diagnostic tools need to be more widely deployed to improve detection of disease, and help prevent spread of tuberculosis in hospitals and clinics.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech in November to an audience at the National Institutes of Health made it clear for the first time that AIDS is a political priority of the Obama administration - vowing to attain the goal of an AIDS-free generation. We applaud this long-awaited commitment. But these promises are empty without the critical funding needed to envision the outcomes we seek. Without resources to bring these exciting advances to the field, we will sit with a cabinet full of medical innovations, "all dressed up with nowhere to go." Meanwhile, the virus will take its toll leaving death and orphans in its wake.

We commend the President's Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) in its World AIDS Day statement urging the Obama administration to set the goal of putting 6 million people on antiretroviral treatment by 2013 through PEPFAR. We challenge the White House and the Congress to embrace this goal, and surpass it. Now is the time to act - to take this agenda and translate it into a continued, long-term commitment to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

###

Several prominent HIV/AIDS specialists will be available for press interviews:

Myron Cohen, MD - Chapel Hill, NC
Dr. Cohen is the J. Herbert Bate Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology and Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also the Public Health Director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases at the university. Dr. Cohen is the principal investigator of the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study, which recently demonstrated that early initiation of antiretroviral therapy for those living with HIV is 96 percent effective at preventing the transmission of the virus to their sexual partners.

Dan Kuritzkes, MD - Boston
Dr. Kuritzkes is a Professor of Medicine at the Harvard University School of Medicine, and Director of AIDS Research at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He is also the Principal Investigator of the AIDS Clinical Trials Group, which supports the largest network of expert clinical and translational investigators and therapeutic clinical trials units in the world, including sites in resource-limited countries.

Kenneth H. Mayer, MD - Boston/Providence, RI
Dr. Mayer is the Infectious Disease Attending and Director of HIV Prevention Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is also a Visiting Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and the Medical Research Director of the Fenway Health Center in Boston where he has conducted numerous HIV research studies over nearly three decades.

Carol Dukes Hamilton, MD - Durham, NC
Dr. Hamilton is a senior scientist at FHI 360 and serves as principal investigator, providing thought leadership for clinical trials that FHI oversees in partnership with Duke University, where she is also a Health & Development Sciences Professor of Medicine. Dr. Hamilton was a founding member of the Tuberculosis (TB) Trials Consortium.

Veronica Miller, PhD - Washington, DC
An immunologist by training with expertise in drug resistance, Dr. Miller is a Visiting Professor for the University of California (UC) Berkeley School of Public Health at the UC Washington Center, and the Executive Director of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research. The Forum's mission is to enhance and facilitate HIV research and this is accomplished by bringing together all relevant stakeholders to address emerging issues in HIV/AIDS.

Carlos del Rio, MD - Atlanta
Dr. del Rio is Chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. del Rio is active in several federally-funded HIV clinical trials networks. He continues to see patients with HIV infection in Atlanta and is active in international HIV/AIDS and TB work in Mexico, the Republic of Georgia, Vietnam and Ethiopia.

Gerald Friedland, MD - New Haven, CT
Dr. Friedland is a Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Public Health and Director of the AIDS Program at the Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Friedland has been a part of groundbreaking work on HIV and tuberculosis (TB) in Tugela Ferry, South Africa. He was associated with the identification of the first cases of extensively drug-resistant TB and has been working in the field of HIV nationally since the beginning of the epidemic.

Deborah Cotton, MD, MPH - Boston
Dr. Cotton is a Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, Professor of Epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health and Deputy Editor of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. She has served on numerous national committees including the Food and Drug Administration Antiviral Advisory Committee (member and chair), the Board on Health Sciences Policy of the Institute of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Health Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council.

To schedule an interview with one of our physician-scientist experts, or for more information, please contact Meredith Mazzotta at 703-740-4954 or mmazzotta@idsociety.org.

 

The Center for Global Health Policy
The Center for Global Health Policy, established by the Infectious Diseases Society of America's Education & Research Foundation in 2008, supports and promotes U.S. efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis around the world. The Center provides scientific and policy information to U.S. policymakers, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the news media, linking decision-makers to the latest evidence-based input and guidance from physician/scientists and other professionals from both developing and developed countries. For more information visit www.idsaglobalhealth.org.


Reproduced with permission - "Center for Global Health Policy "

Center for Global Health Policy
www.idsaglobalhealth.org


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