The Daily Impact: More than 200,000 people unable to access health services in Darfur

July 18, 2014 The Health Sector estimates that about 206,000 people in Darfur are unable to access health services due to the suspension of Red Cross activities and withdrawal of support to health facilities by NGOs. From OCHA: The suspension of ICRC activities has led to the disruption of support provided to two health centres […]

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The Daily Impact: End of AIDS by 2030 possible, says UN

July 17, 2014 A report from the UN says that global progress against AIDS means it may soon come under control and eventually end. From Al Jazeera: “More than ever before, there is hope that ending AIDS is possible. However, a business-as-usual approach or simply sustaining the AIDS response at its current pace cannot end the epidemic”, the UNAIDS […]

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The Daily Impact: WHO recommends ARVs for gay men to prevent HIV spread

July 15, 2015

A recommendation issued by the World Health Organization encourges the use of ARVs among sexually active gay men as a way to prevent the spread of HIV. From the Atlantic:

Worldwide, a man’s risk of HIV infection is 19 times greater if he has sex with other men than if he doesn’t. Taken regularly, the recommended pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP—a single daily pill containing two separate medications—is up to 92 percent effective in protecting its users from HIV. In an update to itsHIV prevention guidelines, the WHO estimated that the widespread use of PrEP among gay and bisexual men could prevent as many as one million new HIV infections over the next decade. 

It’s a number worth celebrating, in theory, but how attainable is it? In the same guidelines released earlier today, the agency also noted that its recommendation may be easier said than fulfilled:

“Implementation may prove challenging, however, where access to services and provision of alternative prevention tools are limited or lacking. Issues of criminalization, stigma and discrimination, and violence should be considered during implementation, especially where same-sex behavior is illegal.”

And as the BBC reported in February, homosexuality is a capital crime in five countries and punishable with imprisonment in 70 more, leaving a sizeable chunk of the world’s high-risk population unlikely or unable to follow the WHO’s wishes.

In the U.S., PReP has already seen its fair share of controversy. The WHO’s announcement comes on the heels of a similar policy from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommended in May that health workers offer PrEP, marketed in the U.S. under the brand name Truvada, to people at high risk of infection, including gay and bisexual men, injection drug users, and women who sleep with men of unknown HIV status. Long used by HIV-positive patients to stave off AIDS, Truvada sparked a bitter debate after it was approved as a prophylaxis in 2012. While some hailed its preventive properties, others—including many in the LGBT community—argued that it would quickly become a risky replacement for condom use.

“If something comes along that’s better than condoms, I’m all for it, but Truvada is not that,” Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation told the Associated Press in April. “Let’s be honest: It’s a party drug.”

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The Daily Impact: China reveals details of its foreign aid spending

July 10, 2014 More than half of China’s foreign aid of over $14 billion between 2010 and 2012 was directed to Africa, the government said on Thursday, underscoring Beijing’s interest in the resource-rich continent to fuel its economy. From Reuters: Some Chinese projects have attracted attention for China’s support of governments with poor human rights […]

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No more catch 22: Saving mothers and babies in Peru

A Casa Materna, in Peru. (Credit:)

By Dr. Mario Tavera Salazar, a UNICEF pediatrician specializing in maternal and child health care in the rural Amazonian basin.

I will retire this year after 22 years at UNICEF, having witnessed a transformation unprecedented in my country’s history. Our problems are more complex than they once were, and less amenable to inexpensive solutions, so progress is still uneven and we have a long way to go. But we are proud to have come as far as we have, and our thriving women and children are the precious legacy of that success.

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