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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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  • The International AIDS Conference....the Missing Link

    By Marce Abare

    I’m from rural New England. My childhood house was actually inside a cow pasture. Looking for a ticket out, the appeal of going to college was primarily the chance to see new places. Initially it was through travel that I began to appreciate the rawness, both beautiful and ill, that determine the environments in which we live.

    I had the opportunity to work at a pediatric hospital in South Africa in 2002. It was a place where antiretroviral drugs weren’t available to average citizens unless they could enroll in a research study. While witnessing HIV-positive infants and toddlers die needlessly for lack of medicine, I realized that there are specific reasons why people facing the same circumstances – in this case HIV infection – can and should be expected to undergo completely different outcomes based on where they live, the color of their skin, how much money and social capital can be called upon for help. Maybe it was easier for me to see the stark contrast created by injustice while traveling, but upon returning home to North Carolina, where there were hundreds of North Carolinians on waiting lists for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, I started wondering how different these places really are. Between Durban and Durham, what seemed the greatest distinctions were the nature of public rhetoric and the scale and visibility of a problem; of course the roots of social injustice were the same.

    Looking back to a decade ago, I left South Africa brimming with new knowledge but without tools to act.
    The 2004 International AIDS Conference (IAC) filled in this missing link. I traveled to Bangkok and found myself in the midst of a powerful, well-versed and goal-focused community of Thai people living with HIV, drug users, sex workers and allies from around the world standing together, that I understood the spectrum of avenues of engagement through which each of us can play a role that makes a difference. 

    Whether it’s learning to use media to raise public awareness of industry tactics to generate profit in contrast with access shortfalls, understanding proceedings in which trade policies are determined, or shaping legislative or regulatory decisions that must be reoriented to a public health paradigm—the world’s best minds in activism gather at the IAC every year.

    I am particularly proud to be an AMSA member this year, when for the first time in more than two decades, thanks to President Obama’s leadership in lifting in the ban on entry for those living with HIV, the IAC will be held on U.S. soil.

    I urge you to attend. Health professional students will be marching alongside the world in Washington, D.C. Our message is simple: make access to treatment and prevention universal; address the lack of adequate housing, education, income opportunities and food security; reverse discriminatory policies that reinforce marginalization and fuel the spread of HIV.

    This is a once in a lifetime opportunity - join us!!

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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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  • AMSA Calls on Secretary Clinton to Put a Financial Commitment and Treatment Target Behind Her Hopes for and AIDS-Free Generation

    Tim Anderson, AIDS Advocacy Network Co-Chair

    On November 8th, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called on the world to commit to ushering in an AIDS-free generation. Recent scientific evidence has raised new hope that the end of the AIDS epidemic may be just around the corner. Unfortunately, her remarks failed to make the concrete funding commitment and treatment target necessary to end the epidemic.

    In August, the results of the US-funded HIV Prevention Trials Network 052 study showed early treatment of HIV cuts the risk of transmission by 96 percent – more effective than condoms. Another study showed that voluntary male circumcision could decrease transmission by over 60 percent. These studies offered hope to physicians and patients that the debate over funding treatment or prevention would be over and finally a strong commitment would be made to treat those in need. This view was echoed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and now by Secretary Clinton. However, Secretary Clinton demurred from committing the US to lead this campaign instead resting on past achievements of previous administrations.

    In a time of financial constraint and uncontrollable health care costs, AMSA calls on Secretary Clinton and President Obama to take the lead in embracing the opportunity to end one of the most expensive health epidemics the world has endured. Health officials at UNAIDS have shown that not only will investing in treatment avert more than 12 million new HIV infections by 2020, but the decrease in new infections will cause costs to fall by 2015. The start is putting 6 million patients on treatment by 2013.

    Science and economics agree - the end of the epidemic is in sight, but only if in the tradition of Presidents Bush and Clinton our country reinforces our global leadership in funding HIV/AIDS. When President Obama speaks on December 1st for World AIDS Day, AMSA calls for him to commit to supporting the end of AIDS.

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