aidsfocus news

aidsfocus news
1 December 2017

Dec 01, 2017


World AIDS Day 2017

Dear aidsfocus readers,

“My main job is having AIDS!” – today this no longer needs to be said by anybody receiving adequate treatment for the disease. The quote comes from the award-winning French film “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” which arrives in German-speaking cinemas today in time for World AIDS Day 2017. The drama shows how, in the Paris of the early nineties, gay men and lesbians from the “ACT UP” anti-AIDS group attacked pharmaceutical companies delaying research into AIDS medication. The activists were HIV-positive and were sounding the alarm because their time was running out. “ACT UP” mobilised against society’s silence, lobbied for prevention and against the stigmatisation of the disease as the “gay plague”.

Today, 25 years later, there is still no cure for AIDS in sight and stigmatisation also remains. But many things have changed. Thanks to the medication, infected people can lead a largely ‘normal’ life. This is proven by several studies of current treatment outcomes which are being celebrated as the most convincing advances in recent years: people in whose blood the HIV virus is no longer detectable due to treatment with antiretroviral drugs are also no longer sexually contagious. This is not fundamentally new but the studies are now showing for the first time that there has also not been any sexual transmission among the so-called ‘risk groups’. There has not been one single case of contagion! (“U=U”: Undetectable=Untransmittable). This is a strong signal to the general public in the fight against stigmatisation and an emotional release for anyone living until now with the fear that they pose a risk.

However: the challenge remains! This success story applies only to those in treatment – which is currently almost 21 million people. But it does not apply to the around 16 million infected people who are not receiving treatment, nor to the about 2 million who are newly infected each year. We know the numbers: UNAIDS has set the goal that by 2020 around 90% of HIV-positive people, that is around 32 million, are receiving treatment. Huge additional efforts are therefore necessary: the often invisible, so-called risk groups who receive too little attention from the programmes, such as young women and girls in many African countries, sex-workers, drug-users and homosexuals in particular, must be reached.

The director of the film “BPM (Beats Per Minute)”, Robin Campillo, neatly sums it up: “I have the impression that to date our governments – in spite of all the advances in AIDS therapy – are not doing enough to identify and protect the newly infected. We cannot stop campaigning and we must promote education about the disease pragmatically rather than moralistically” (ARD: Im Kampf gegen Aids).

It holds true even on today’s World AIDS Day 2017, around 35 years after the outbreak of the epidemic: HIV/AIDS is not a minority problem but something that affects us all. Let’s take the right to health for ALL seriously! ACT UP NOW!

Mira Gardi, MMS intern and project leader, has examined the situation of young female sex workers in India with UNAIDS India as part of her master thesis (Master of Science in Global Health). Read about her interesting findings in our Topic of the Month.

Martina Staenke
Communication Manager, Medicus Mundi Switzerland


Topic of the month

World AIDS Day 2017: Young female sex workers in Maharashtra, India: Why they have a higher vulnerability and risk behavior for HIV

MMS/ - Existing evidence showed that young female sex workers (FSWs) (<25 years) have an even greater HIV vulnerability and risk behaviour than older FSWs. However, only very few studies analysed differences in HIV vulnerability and risk behaviour based on age, which is why this study compares the vulnerability and risk behaviour of young FSWs and older FSWs, by conducting a descriptive exploratory analysis of secondary age-disaggregated data from Maharashtra (south Indian state). (Photo: AIDS:The Indian Epidemic/Benzene Aseel/flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Information from the Swiss community of practice

Es ist noch nicht geschafft - Jochen Ehmer im Interview

Luzerner Zeitung - "Auch wenn schon viel erreicht wurde in der Bekämpfung von HIV und Aids, Entwarnung gibt es noch lange keine. Weder hier noch in Afrika. Warum, das wissen zwei Experten.


Studie «TENART» bestätigt hohe Behand­lungs­quali­tät der New­lands Clinic

Ruedi Lüthy Foundation - Während 10 Jahren haben Ruedi Lüthy und sein Team den Erfolg der HIV-Behandlung bei über 600 Langzeit­patienten der Newlands Clinic untersucht. Die Resultate sind dank der umfas­senden Behand­lung und Betreu­ung der Patienten vergleich­bar mit denje­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­nigen in der Schweiz.


Welt-Aids-Tag 2017

Aids-Hilfe Schweiz - Am 1. Dezember ist Welt-Aids-Tag. Weltweit sind Menschen aufgefordert, aktiv zu werden im Kampf gegen Aids und HIV und ihre Solidarität gegenüber Menschen mit HIV zu zeigen.


International news

Europe's HIV epidemic growing at alarming rate, WHO warns

Reuters - "The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in Europe reached its highest level in 2016 since records began, showing the region’s epidemic growing “at an alarming pace”, health officials said on Tuesday.


The Right to Health Is Universal

Project Syndicate - "On this year's World AIDS Day, millions of people with HIV still do not have access to life-saving treatment, while millions more do not even know that they have the disease. This is a grave injustice, and it speaks to an even larger problem around the world: health is not being afforded the protection it deserves as a fundamental human right. (by Michel Sidibé & Dainius Puras)


UNAIDS announces nearly 21 million people living with HIV now on treatment

UNAIDS - CAPE TOWN/GENEVA, 20 November 2017: "Remarkable progress is being made on HIV treatment. Ahead of World AIDS Day, UNAIDS has launched a new report showing that access to treatment has risen significantly. In 2000, just 685 000 people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy.


UNAIDS launches 2017 World AIDS Day campaign—My Health, My Right

UNAIDS - "In the lead-up to World AIDS Day on 1 December, UNAIDS has launched this year’s World AIDS Day campaign. The campaign, My Health, My Right, focuses on the right to health and explores the challenges people around the world face in exercising their rights.


Alliance launches READY to Decide campaign - "Thousands of girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa are contracting HIV because they’re not able to choose what happens to their bodies. What happens to a girl’s body needs to be when she is ready to decide.


Offline: Who is Peter Sands?

The Lancet - "The appointment of a new Executive Director to lead the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria was not a tidy process. The first attempt to find a successor to Mark Dybul ended in ignominious failure, with questions raised, variously, about the moral probity and conflicts of interest of several prominent candidates. The Global Fund Board tried again.


Time for a GIPA refresh

International AIDS Society - "Perhaps the single most important characteristic of the AIDS response – one that holds lessons about efforts to address other health challenges – is the central contribution of people living with HIV and those in the communities who have borne the brunt of HIV, including LGBTI people, sex workers, and people who use drugs. For no other health problem has the involvement of affected individuals played so vital a role.


Repressive Drug Policies Fuel Overdoses in Estonia – An Interview with Mart Kalvet

Drug reporter - Estonia is a country hit hard by the opioid overdose epidemic. People struggling with overdoses in other countries can learn a lot from the Estonian example about what works and what does not work in preventing deaths and suffering. We interviewed Mart Kalvet, an activist representing LUNEST, the Estonian organisation of people who use drugs.


Reports and Studies

On World AIDS Day, UNAIDS warns that men are less likely to access HIV treatment and more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses

UNAIDS, 1 December 2017 - "On World AIDS Day, UNAIDS has released a new report showing that men are less likely to take an HIV test, less likely to access antiretroviral therapy and more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses than women. The Blind spot shows that globally less than half of men living with HIV are on treatment, compared to 60% of women. Studies show that men are more likely than women to start treatment late, to interrupt treatment and to be lost to treatment follow-up.


Right to health

UNAIDS - "World AIDS Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the interdependence between progress in ending AIDS and progress towards universal health coverage and the right to health.


Advancing the Right to Health in the AIDS Response: An Evolving Movement and an Uncertain Future

Health and Human Rights Journal - "The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is focusing its 2017 World AIDS Day campaign on the right to health. This groundbreaking campaign, My Health, My Right, provides an opportunity to reflect on the advancements of the right to health in the AIDS response and the challenges for human rights in the years to come.


The expanding epidemic of HIV-1 in the Russian Federation

Plos Med - "In 2017, the Russian Federation (RF) is estimated to have the largest number of HIV-1 infected citizens of any country in Europe. Cumulative reported diagnoses reached over 1.16 million infections by mid-2017, and actual infections, including those that remain undiagnosed and/or unreported, are doubtless substantially higher. In contrast to the global epidemic pattern, the HIV epidemic in the RF and in most countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia continues to expand significantly.


Achieving HIV Targets through Human Rights Instruments

The Global Forum on MSM & HIV - "Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, stigma and discrimination have fueled human rights violations against communities that are marginalized and particularly vulnerable to HIV.


The WHO public health approach to HIV treatment and care: looking back and looking ahead

The Lancet - "In 2006, WHO set forth its vision for a public health approach to delivering antiretroviral therapy. This approach has been broadly adopted in resource-poor settings and has provided the foundation for scaling up treatment to over 19·5 million people. There is a global commitment to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 and, to support this goal, there are opportunities to adapt the public health approach to meet the ensuing challenges.



Helminth Infection - from Transmission to Control

The Swiss TPH Winter Symposium, 7-8 December 2017 invites medical parisitologists, infection biologists, epidemiologists and global health specialists and students to review and discuss progress in research, control, elimination and eradication of helminth infections. - Health impact versus health benefits of helminth infections; - Towards better treatment options for helminth infections; - Latest diagnostic developments; - From morbitity control to elimination and eradication.


Pollution and health, why should I care? - The Lancet highlights the impact of pollution on health

SDC, 14 December 2017 - With Richard Fuller, President of Pure Earth & co-chair of the Lancet Commission and with the participation of: Nino Künzli, Deputy Director Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (SwissTPH), Richard Ballaman, Head of the section Air quality management, Federal office for the Environment, Pio Wennubst, Head of the domain Global Cooperation at SDC (TBC), The Hydrology section, Federal office for the Environment (TBC). Diseases caused by pollution were responsible in 2015 for an estimated 9 million premature deaths - 16% of all deaths worldwide – three times more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined; and fifteen times more than all wars and other forms of violence. Nevertheless, pollution is still neglected although it is well known that the cost of inaction is high, while solutions can yield economic gains. Nearly 92% of pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.


Leave No One Behind - End Violence against Women and Girls

MMS/ - Medicus Mundi Switzerland will discuss on Gender-Based Violence at the MMS/ conference 2018 on the 2nd of May 2018 in Berne.


AIDS 2018

The International AIDS Society, 23/7/2018, Amsterdam - IAS announced that Amsterdam, Netherlands will host the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018). AIDS 2018 is expected to bring together some 18,000 participants from around the world. “The Netherlands is a great example of what happens when a government supports outstanding science and embraces evidence-based HIV programmes in combination with a robust commitment to human rights,” said Chris Beyrer, President of the IAS.

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