AHF Lauds Donors for Pledging $13 Billion to the Global Fund

AHF now invites China to pledge $100 million to the Fund

MONTREAL, CANADA (September 18, 2016) AHF today applauded the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and donor countries for reaching the fundraising target of $13 billion for the Fifth Replenishment Round, which will fund lifesaving treatment and prevention programs for millions of people around the world through 2019. At the conclusion of the replenishment meeting in Montreal, $12.9 billion USD had been formally pledged, although contributions from outstanding countries that had not yet committed will still be accepted and strongly encouraged.

In 2015, AHF rolled out a global advocacy campaign called “Fund the Fund” with the chief aim of ensuring the success of the Fifth Replenishment Round, and specifically urging large donors such as Germany, Japan and China to increase their contributions. The long-running advocacy effort included grassroots demonstrations in front of embassies in over 20 countries, a letter writing campaign, advertising campaigns and meetings with embassy officials and high-level decision makers around the world.

“We are very proud of having played a role in helping the Global Fund reach its funding target of $13 billion. This was a truly global effort for AHF that ran the gamut from a procession of tuk-tuks wrapped in ‘Fund the Fund’ banners going from embassy to embassy in Phnom Penh to a large demonstration and march in Berlin in front of the Parliament, to meetings with embassies of donor governments in Kathmandu, Lima, Pretoria, and much, much more,” said Loretta Wong, AHF Senior Director of Global Advocacy and Policy. “While we were only a part of a much larger global movement working on replenishment advocacy, successes like a larger contribution from Germany— which increased its contribution from Euro 600 million to Euro 800 million—show that concerted advocacy indeed works.”

Despite many competing social and development priorities vying for funding, which in recent years has become scarce, increases in GFATM pledges from large donors like the European Commission, Germany, Japan, France, the UK and the United States demonstrate that the global AIDS, TB and malaria responses remain a leading development priority that demands continued funding. The pledges also serve as a vote of confidence for the effectiveness and impact of programs funded by the GFATM.

On the eve of Germany’s increased pledge, AHF ran an ad in the German newspaper Allgäuer Zeitung urging the Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller to increase Germany’s contribution to €800 million. Earlier that same month, AHF country program directors from over a dozen countries sent appeals to Germany, urging it to contribute more.

AHF Europe Bureau Chief Zoya Shabarova was excited to hear about Germany’s decision to up its contribution. “This is excellent! I think AHF’s voice was heard in the EU through AHF advocacy meetings at German Embassies globally, lobbying in Den Haag at the Ministry and at Parliament,” she said.

“This is a very significant victory for AHF and our Fund the Fund campaign. The donors have declared that getting AIDS, TB and malaria under control is still very much a priority, but our advocacy doesn’t end here,” said Michael Weinstein, AHF President. “We laud the United States, European Commission, France, Great Britain, Germany, Japan and others who have either increased or maintained their contributions, but one donor remains conspicuously absent despite being the second largest economy in the world and that’s China. We will continue advocating until China contributes its fair share to the Global Fund. The Replenishment may be over, but countries can still make contributions afterward; also it’s critically important that down the road pledges translate into actual contributions and that all commitments are fully met, so our advocacy will continue.”

“We also now call on the Global Fund to ensure the most efficient and effective use of these critical new resources and that these funds are directed to efforts to end or fully control these three diseases and not succumb to pressure from some donors to possibly divert resources to other uses when the evidence of the favorable health impact of Global Fund funding on AIDS, TB and Malaria is overwhelming,” added Dr. Jorge Saavedra, AHF’s Global Public Health Ambassador and former Head of the National AIDS Program of Mexico (SENSIDA). “Lastly, we invite China to be a hero in this Global Fund replenishment cycle by contributing and covering the $100 million gap to bring this replenishment up to $13 billion.”

World Health Organization Says Drug Resistant Gonorrhea Is On the Rise

UN Agency reiterates condoms are one of the most effective methods of protection against STIs

LOS ANGELES (August 31, 2016) Common sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia, are becoming more difficult to treat due to antibiotic resistance, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday. In releasing new guidelines for treating these bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs), WHO expressed concerns that “resistance of these STIs to the effect of antibiotics has increased rapidly in recent years and has reduced treatment options. Of the 3 STIs, gonorrhoea has developed the strongest resistance to antibiotics. Strains of multidrug-resistant gonorrhoea that do not respond to any available antibiotics have already been detected. Antibiotic resistance in chlamydia and syphilis, though less common, also exists, making prevention and prompt treatment critical.”

While WHO treatment guidelines for these infections have not changed since 2003, in its statement yesterday WHO named “misuse and overuse” of antibiotics as a cause for the rise of drug resistant strains. In the newly released guidelines, WHO does not recommend quinolones (a class of antibiotic) for the treatment of gonorrhea due to widespread high levels of resistance. The new WHO guidelines also strongly recommend a single dose of benzathine penicillin to cure syphilis and continue to recommend doxycycline and azithromycin as the best choices to treat chlamydia.

“The continued global concern around the rise of drug resistant sexually transmitted diseases underscores the importance of using condoms, which are still one of the most effective methods of protection,” said AHF President Michael Weinstein.

Last December, Britain’s top doctor and pharmaceutical officer issued warnings about an antibiotic resistant “super-gonorrhea” that had been identified in the country and urged medical providers to consistently prescribe both antibiotics—injectable ceftriaxone and azithromycin—used to properly threat the sexually transmitted infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported notifiable disease in the United States, with 350,062 gonorrhea cases being reported in 2014. In March 2015, the White House released its National Action Plan to “Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria” (CARB) and through federal funding for CARB in fiscal year 2016, the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention (DSTDP) says it is supporting a number of new and continuing activities that aim to slow the development of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea and prevent its spread.

AHF’s Wellness Centers provide free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. To find the nearest location for STD screening and treatment, visit www.freestdcheck.org

AHF Demands More Transparency on UNAIDS HIV Treatment estimations

LOS ANGELES (August 31, 2016) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) the largest global AIDS organization, which serves 600,000 clients in 36 countries, today called for more transparency and accountability on the way, data and assumptions that UNAIDS uses to make estimations of the numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS who are on lifesaving anti-retroviral treatment (ART) around the globe. In June, just before the UN’s High Level Meeting on AIDS in New York,

UNAIDS made an announcement that two million more individuals worldwide were on AIDS treatment now than in the prior year, bringing their estimate of those on treatment to 17 million people worldwide.

AHF and other advocates believe that number may be an exaggeration and note that it is crucial to have as accurate a number of those on treatment as possible in order to best deploy the resources needed to end the epidemic by 2030 as part of the 90-90-90 targets (90% of people with HIV have been diagnosed; 90% of the diagnosed receive ART and 90% of those on ART to achieve viral load suppression by year 2020).

“UNAIDS needs to be accountable to the entire international community and not just to governments and donors,” said Michael Weinstein, AHF President. “Right now, it is not clear that a site-by-site audit inside a country would produce the same numbers as what is being reported by UNAIDS. Some countries do not provide the numbers, or do not have the numbers, therefore UNAIDS estimates are based on multiple layers of assumptions. They end up with numbers that are sometimes difficult to believe, but that definitely portray an optimistic view of the progress in the war on AIDS.”

According to AHF’s Associate Director of Global Policy, Denys Nazarov, a recent Lancet article published by an independent research body called the Group on Burden of Disease (GDB) insists that with respect to treatment coverage rates there needs to be stricter adherence to the Guidelines for Accurate and Transparent Health Estimates Reporting (GATHER), which were developed by the WHO. Some of the estimates done by the GDB in some cases differ by a large margin from those done by UNAIDS.

“For example, in 2014 UNAIDS estimated a much faster rate of decline in annual new infections than GBD. Globally, GBD 2015 report estimates about 2.5 million new infections in 2014, whereas UNAIDS estimates about 2 million for the same time period,” Nazarov said. “A more dramatic case was Kenya where results from GBD 2015 show an increase in annual new infections from 60,000 in 2005, to 146,700 in 2014, whereas UNAIDS shows a decrease from 73,000 to 56,000 during the same period year. Since we have HIV services in Kenya, who should we believe? I think the responsibility for full transparency needs to come from UNAIDS.”

Jorge Saavedra, AHF’s Global Public Health Ambassador and former Head of the National AIDS Program of Mexico said experience shows that there are some methods that tend to overestimate the number of people on ART, such as only counting the volumes of procurement without taking into account if they really reached the mouth of the patient. “On the other hand,” Saavedra added, “when big countries like Nigeria, India or Russia among others, do not release their full data, UNAIDS should embrace its leadership role and fully release all the assumptions used in order to estimate those numbers.”