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  • We Can End AIDS!!!

    We at the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) are very excited for tomorrow's We Can End AIDS March in Washington, DC! AMSA will be joining thousands of other marchers and asking for "accountability from Big Pharma and government officials around the world."

    What does this mean?

    We want our governments to put patients ahead of pharmaceutical profits. Instead of being influenced by Big Pharma to create trade policies and legislation that enables access to affordable medicines rather than expensive, brand name alternatives. Only 7.4 million of the 34 million infected with HIV worldwide are currently receiving ARVs. We know thanks to the NIH funded HPTN052 study that treatment is prevention. We need our policymakers take this science and put this into practice through laws that allow for patients worldwide to have access to cheaper generics.

    To find out more or join us in DC tomorrow - http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Homepage/Events/IAC.aspx

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  • Activists mobilizing at International AIDS Conference

    The year 2011 was a year marked with amazing advances in the global fight against HIV/AIDS:

    ● A groundbreaking National Institutes of Health (NIH) study demonstrated that antiretrovirals can reduce heterosexual HIV transmission by 96%.
    ● Economists created models showing that treating 6 million people by 2013 can prevent 12 million new infections by 2020 with cost savings in only 4 years.
    ● On World AIDS Day, Obama announced a commitment to treating 6 million people by 2013.

    It was through many of your efforts, including letter and editorial writing as well as hosting events with your chapters, that this was possible.

    2012 brings another opportunity to harness this momentum to continue the fight. The U.S. for the first time ever will be the host of the International AIDS Conference (IAC) from July 24-27th in Washington D.C. You, as an AMSA member, have an opportunity to attend this inspiring conference and join a huge mobilization in D.C. AMSA is an official anchor organization in the coalition of international human rights community groups that will converge in D.C. on July 24th during the IAC. The goal - to intensify political pressure to ensure access to life-saving HIV treatment and reduce new HIV infections. The IAC Coalition has developed a comprehensive platform of 12 demands regarding access to essential HIV/AIDS treatment (full platform attached to this email). We are hoping that you will join us in sending a strong message to policymakers that AMSA is dedicated to the goal of stopping HIV/AIDS. We are at a major turning point in HIV/AIDS history and now have the potential to be the generation that stops the HIV/AIDS pandemic. But, this cannot happen without your energy and presence at this pivotal conference.

    There are countless ways for you to become involved with this mobilization and attend! Some of you may have already planned to attend and will be presenting posters or engaging in conference sessions. On July 24th, please make sure you set aside time to come out in your white coats and join the demonstration. We also need lots of help mobilizing other students from your own school. If you are interested in becoming a point person for such recruitment, please let us know so we can provide you with materials to get your peers as excited as we are to be a part of this effort. If you want to help out even further, we would love for you join our national outreach committee to coordinate other chapters around the country. Let us know if you want to get involved at any level or if you have any questions by filling this form out. Like us on Facebook too.

    Even if you cannot come to D.C. in July, you can still make a difference and represent AMSA through visits to congressional members, letters-to-the-editor, and events at your school. These efforts, even at a local level, will signal to the international community present at the IAC that our nation’s medical students are invested in ensuring that President Obama keeps his promise to place 6 million people on treatment by 2013 and want to make a difference in the global fight against HIV/AIDS.

    As an AMSA member, you have the power to influence the direction of the HIV/AIDS pandemic this July. The science and economics are clear – the end of this disease IS in sight. We hope that you will join us in making this happen during our generation.

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  • Successful World AIDS Day 2011

    By Tim Anderson
    AIDS Advocacy Network Chair, AMSA


    Nationally, World AIDS Day was a success. President Obama made a firm commitment to treat 6 million new cases by 2013 - the goal which we have been calling for. He pledged 50 million dollars to be re-directed from public health funds toward Ryan White and AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAP) to help shrink the waiting lists here in the United States.

    I've very proud of the AMSA members across the country for working hard to organize local World AIDS Day events from charity fundraisers to educational talks to policy actions. Please email pictures & descriptions for us to post online - we've already started to get materials from AMSA chapters around the country which will be up on http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Homepage/About/Committees/Global/AIDSAdvocacyNetwork.aspx shortly.

    Thank you to all those who wrote letters to the editor, op-eds, and other messages to alert the world of the dire funding state of global HIV/AIDS. Over 100 AMSA members sent in LTEs on WAD or in response to Clinton's speech earlier in November. We've had letters published in Iowa, New York, Illinois, Florida, Washington D.C., and Ohio.

    Unfortunately this week also had its share of bad news - the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria was forced to cancel its annual funding round for 2013 due to decreased contributions from donor countries. This is unacceptable. Not only does the funding freeze means decreased access to treatment globally but hundreds of hours wasted by countries and non-profits in writing grants and designing AIDS treatment plans which will now go unfunded. Industrialized countries have broken a promise to the world's most vulnerable populations and we must call on the U.S. and other industrialized countries to strengthen their promise.

    As 2011 comes to a close we turn our eyes to the International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Washington DC this July. For the first time in its long history, the International AIDS Conference will be hosted in the United States (thanks to President Obama's repeal of the HIV travel ban). The IAC offers an amazing opportunity in which global leaders, researchers, policy-makers, and activists come together to press forward towards ending HIV/AIDS. AMSA's AIDS Advocacy Network will be working to organize premedical and medical students to come to D.C. and rally before the conference to call for a GLOBAL commitment to ending HIV/AIDS. Please email us to be involved in planning as the conference is only 7 months away and we would love to have your chapter involved.

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  • World AIDS Day 2011

    Tomorrow is World AIDS Day. The world now has the tools to virtually eliminate continued transmission of a virus that’s claimed the lives of more than 25 million people over the last three decades.

    The White House is scheduled to make a major announcement tomorrow. In light of 4 years of flat-line funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and recent cuts to the U.S. contribution to the Global Fund, and subsequent discontinuation of new Global Fund grants to support health care programs all over the developing world, we have much to hope for from the President on December 1st.

    But we need your help! Take a moment to send a "Letter to the editor".  

    AMSA is proud to stand among global partners calling for real commitment. Please join us in this movement. For more information, check out AMSA’s World AIDS Day Toolkit.

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  • 15 Million by 2015!

    Kristin Huntoon
    AMSA Health Policy Chair


    “15 million by 2015”, “Treat AIDS, Stop the Virus”, “Keep your promise”, “mag aan die mense (Power to the People)” these are just a few of the cheers that were echoed across the walls of the United Nations (UN) Building in New York City on Wednesday by hundreds of HIV/TB/Malaria advocates to those delegates meeting at UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS. As Assembly members exited their shiny black delegate cars, they received a resounding reminder of the important decisions that would be voted upon in the coming days.

    The demands by those attending the rally included: full funding to end AIDS, respect for human rights for all people, 15 million people on AIDS treatment by 2015, an end to trade deals that put profits and patents ahead of lives, adopt International Declaration on Poverty, Housing Instability and HIV/AIDS, cut tuberculosis death among People Living with HIV/AIDS by at least 50 percent, elimination of new infections from injection drug use and mother to child transmission, and reduction of HIBV infections via sex by 50 percent.

    Simple enough, especially considering that this comes on the heels of exciting new science that shows that when people living with HIV are on treatment they are 96 percent less likely to transmit HIV to their partners.

    Sadly, the PEPFAR program only plans to treat “more than 4 million people” by 2013. President Obama’s budget request is the smallest increase ever for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program—just 0.5 percent for Fiscal Year 2012, far off track toward meeting the President's own funding promises with warnings to PEPFAR country directors across Africa to plan for "painful cuts next year."

    According to UNAIDS, committing to a modest increase now will avoid a much longer term investment as well as the chance to prevent 12 million infections and save 7 million lives.

    Likewise, activists also voiced concern that while the U.S. continues to roll out AIDS treatment, it is simultaneously seeking to negotiate trade deals what would undermine access to less expensive, generic versions of new drugs.

    On the General Assembly’s last day of meeting, it appeared that the United States will endorse a new AIDS treatment goal to reach 15 million people with anti-retroviral drugs by 2015. This plan aims to increase global AIDS financing by $6 billion per year globally—from a combination of donor and national funding. Although this is a step forward, plans are just political declarations until a concrete plan is executed and many issues still remain, but we are one……

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  • AIDS Activists Gather in NYC

    Merrian Brooks, DO

    Hundreds of people from many AIDS activist groups joined together on Wednesday to demand sound policies and greater funding for HIV. The group marched 12 blocks, first stopping at the EU building, demanding that the EU stop endorsement trade agreements that support big pharmaceutical companies and result in HIV medicines being more expensive than they could be given generic more open generic competition. Next the rally stopped in front of a NYC gym where Mayor Bloomberg was exercising and demanded that he maintain funding for housing programs that people living with HIV desperately need. Finally, the march ended with a rally outside of the UN building where the coalition made its demands and raised awareness about pressing issues.

    One issue brought up, by many of the speakers at the rally is the growing very disturbing trend of treating people with HIV as biological weapons. One case mentioned, was of a man who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for spitting on a police officer a normally minor offense, unless you have HIV. Given that one needs gallons of saliva to transmit HIV to another person, the harshness of this sentence is difficult to justify. The speakers asked citizens and leadership to be aware of these policies and to block them whenever they can.

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  • Attending the International AIDS Conference

    By Andrea Knittel
    MD/PhD Candidate
    University of Michigan Medical School
    University of Michigan School of Public Health

    President Bill ClintonIf you have ever attended an International AIDS Conference, you know how gigantic they are. Whether you were there as an activist, an implementer of public health programs, a social science researcher, a clinical investigator, or a basic scientist, you were probably overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it all. AIDS 2010 in Vienna, Austria was my first experience, and it was incredible. According to the conference blog, there were over 19,000 people participating this year! Some of the highlights for me included:

    • Meeting other conference attendees in my hostel in Vienna and getting the chance to hear about social work with drug users in Taiwan and condom use in Kenya (their respective areas of expertise)
    • Conference sessions, posters, and satellite sessions (early morning and late evening sessions organized by outside groups, but vetted by the conference for relevance) about my particular area of interest, HIV and the criminal justice system (materials for these and other sessions are available here)
    • Speeches from Deputy President of South Africa, Kgalema Molanthe, Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and Bill Gates (check out available webcasts of all of these here)
    • Bill Gates answering the question I had submitted during the Q&A session following his talk
    • Impassioned speeches, moving protests, and incredible advocacy from the individuals and organizations participating in the Global Village – the part of the conference devoted to connecting HIV/AIDS advocates from around the globe (many of these are also available as webcasts)

    Overall it was an amazing chance to see everything that’s developing in HIV/AIDS research in a concentrated setting. I got to hear about the CAPRISA 004 tenofovir microbicide gel trial results, and also participated in an inspiring march for human rights through the old city in Vienna. Though it initially seemed odd to try to mix advocacy, science, and program implementation into a single conference, I think I’m convinced that it creates a dynamic and exciting environment in which to learn. 

    Leave a comment about your AIDS2010 experiences!

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