Dec 1 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: December 1

Today Is World AIDS Day

A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and UNAIDS finds that 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV. Increased access to HIV services has resulted in a 15 percent reduction of new infections over the past decade and a 22 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths in the last five years. The number of people receiving AIDS medicine worldwide rose to 6.65 million in 2010 from 400,000 in 2003.

"It has taken the world ten years to achieve this level of momentum," says Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of WHO's HIV Department. "There is now a very real possibility of getting ahead of the epidemic. But this can only be achieved by both sustaining and accelerating this momentum over the next decade and beyond."

Despite the advances worldwide, concerns remain, according to the report:

  • More than half of the people who need antiretroviral therapy are still unable to access it. Many of them do not even know that they have HIV.
  • Many people in high-risk groups including adolescent girls, people who inject drugs, men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, prisoners and migrants remain unable to access HIV prevention and treatment services.
  • The vast majority (64 percent) of people aged 15-24 living with HIV worldwide today are female.
  • About 3.4 million children are living with HIV—many of whom lack HIV treatment.

Funding globally and in the U.S. remains a significant concern. According to the new report, annual funding for HIV/AIDS programs fell to $15 billion in 2010 from $15.9 billion in 2009, well below the estimated $22-24 billion that UN agencies say is needed by 2015 to pay for a comprehensive and effective global response to HIV/AIDS.

The public-private Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the world's largest financial backer of HIV treatment and prevention programs, said last week it was cancelling new grants and would make no new funding available until 2014. Get more HIV news.

FDA Approves Generic Version of Lipitor

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug that had $11 billion in sales until its patent expired yesterday. Generic versions are now available in pharmacies, but price drops won’t be very apparent to consumers for about half a year, when more generic manufacturers enter the market. Read more prescription drug news.

Health Care Professionals More Likely to Wash Hands When Cameras Do the Monitoring

A new study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that more doctors and nurses washed their hands when video cameras were installed in every room in their department and the staff was continuously informed about rates of hand-washing compliance. Read up on infectious disease news.

Tags: AIDS, Global Health, HIV, Infectious disease, News roundups, Public health