The Protect IP/SOPA Bill Threatens the Entire Internet, Video Explains the Flaws in This Hurried Legislation

Tell Congress not to censor the internet NOW! – fightforthefuture.org/pipa

Source: fightforthefuture.org

World Aids Update… Unparalleled global progress in HIV response but sustained investment vital

GENEVA, 30 November 2011—Global progress in both preventing and treating HIV emphasizes the benefits of sustaining investment in HIV/AIDS over the longer term. The latest report by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and UNAIDS Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Response indicates that increased access to HIV services  resulted in a 15% reduction of new infections over the past decade and a 22% decline in AIDS-related deaths in the last five years.

“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.”

Advances in HIV science and programme innovations over the past year add hope for future progress. In times of economic austerity it will be essential to rapidly apply new science, technologies and approaches to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of HIV programmes in countries.

The report highlights what is already working:

  • Improved access to HIV testing services enabled 61% of pregnant women in eastern and southern Africa to receive testing and counseling for HIV – up from 14% in 2005.
  • Close to half (48%) of pregnant women in need receive effective medicines to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in 2010.
  • Antiretroviral therapy (ART), which not only improves the health and well-being of people living with HIV but also stops further HIV transmission, is available now for 6.65 million people in low- and middle-income countries, accounting for 47% of the 14.2 million people eligible to receive it.

When people are healthier, they are better able to cope financially. The report acknowledges that investment in HIV services could lead to total gains of up to US$ 34 billion by 2020 in increased economic activity and productivity, more than offsetting the costs of ART programmes.

“2011 has been a game changing year. With new science, unprecedented political leadership and continued progress in the AIDS response, countries have a window of opportunity to seize this momentum and take their responses to the next level,” said Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNAIDS. “By investing wisely, countries can increase efficiencies, reduce costs and improve on results. However, gains made to date are being threatened by a decline in resources for AIDS.”

The report also points to what still needs to be done:

  • More than half of the people who need antiretroviral therapy in low- and middle-income countries are still unable to access it. Many of them do not even know that they have HIV.
  • Despite the growing body of evidence as to what countries need to focus on to make a real impact on their epidemics, some are still not tailoring their programmes for those who are most at risk and in need. In many cases, 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.

Worldwide, the vast majority (64%) of people aged 15-24 living with HIV today are female. The rate is even higher in sub-Saharan Africa where girls and young women make up 71% of all young people living with HIV – essentially because prevention strategies are not reaching them.

Key populations are continually marginalized. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, more than 60% of those living with HIV are people who inject drugs. But injecting drug users account for only 22% of those receiving ART.

Although better services to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV have averted some 350 000 new infections among children, some 3.4 million children are living with HIV – many of whom lack HIV treatment. Only about one in four children in need of HIV treatment in low- and middle-income countries received it in 2010, as compared to 1 in 2 adults.

“While there have been gains in treatment, care and support available to adults, we note that progress for children is slower,” says Leila Pakkala, Director of the UNICEF Office in Geneva.  “The coverage of HIV interventions for children remains alarmingly low. Through concerted action and equity-focused strategies, we must make sure that global efforts are working for children as well as adults”.

HIV in regions and countries

In 2010, HIV epidemics and responses in different parts of the world vary with shifting trends, progress rates and outcomes.

Sub-Saharan Africa recorded the biggest overall annual increase–30%–in the number of people accessing ART. Three countries (Botswana, Namibia and Rwanda) have achieved universal coverage (80%) for HIV prevention, treatment and care services. The regional ART coverage rate stood at 49% at the end of 2010. Approximately 50% of pregnant women living with HIV receive treatment to prevent mother-to child transmission of HIV. And 21% of children in need are able to get paediatric HIV treatments. There were 1.9 million new infections in the region, where 22.9 million people are living with HIV. There are some major disparities in progress between different parts of the region. Countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have reached much higher coverage rates for ART (56%) and PMTCT (64%) than countries in Western and Central Africa (30% and 18% respectively).

Asia shows a stabilizing epidemic overall, but new infections are very high in some communities. Of the 4.8 million people living with HIV in Asia, nearly half (49%) are in India. Antiretroviral treatment coverage is increasing with 39% of adults and children in need of HIV treatment having access. Coverage of PMTCT services is relatively low- (16%).

Eastern Europe and Central Asia presents a dramatic growth in HIV, with new infections increasing by 250% in the past decade. Over 90% of these infections occur in just two countries: Russia and Ukraine. The region demonstrates high coverage rates for PMTCT and paediatric HIV treatment (with 78% and 65% coverage rates respectively). However, ART coverage is very low at 23%, particularly among the most affected people- the ones who inject drugs.

Middle East and North Africa records the highest number of HIV infections ever in the region (59 000) in 2010, which represents a 36% increase over the past year. Coverage of HIV services are very low in the region: 10% for ART, 5% for paediatric treatment and 4% for PMTCT.

Latin America and the Caribbean have a stabilizing epidemic with 1.5 million living with HIV in Latin America and 200 000 in the Caribbean. HIV is predominantly among networks of men who have sex with men in Latin America. In the Caribbean though, women are the more affected group accounting for 53% of people living with HIV. The region has ART coverage of 63% for adults and 39% for children.  Coverage for effective PMTCT regimen is relatively high at 74%.

Sustaining the HIV response through the next 10 years

  • Countries are already showing marked efficiency gains in HIV programmes: South Africa reduced HIV drug costs by more than 50% over a two-year period by implementing a new tendering strategy for procurement. Uganda saved US$2 million by shifting to simpler paediatric regimens. Such efficiencies are promoted through Treatment 2.0 – an initiative launched by WHO and UNAIDS in 2010 to promote simpler, cheaper and easier-to-deliver HIV treatment and diagnostic tools, combined with decentralized services that are supported by communities.
  • WHO is developing new guidance on the strategic use of antiretroviral drugs for both prevention and treatment.
  • WHO’s “Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV/AIDS, 2011-2015”, endorsed by the World Health Assembly in May 2011 highlights the importance of continuing efforts to optimize HIV treatment and “combination” prevention – the use of a range of different approaches to reduce people’s risk of infection.

The 2011 “Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Response” is the comprehensive report on both the epidemiology and progress rates in access to HIV services globally and in regions and countries. It has been jointly developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS, in collaboration with national and international partners.

The full report is available from: http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/progress_report2011/.

Environmental News: Aerosols Affect Climate More than Satellite Estimates Predict

Newswise — ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Aerosol particles, including soot and sulfur dioxide from burning fossil fuels, essentially mask the effects of greenhouse gases and are at the heart of the biggest uncertainty in climate change prediction. New research from the University of Michigan shows that satellite-based projections of aerosols’ effect on Earth’s climate significantly underestimate their impacts.

The findings will be published online the week of Aug. 1 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Aerosols are at the core of “cloud drops”—water particles suspended in air that coalesce to form precipitation. Increasing the number of aerosol particles causes an increase in the number of cloud drops, which results in brighter clouds that reflect more light and have a greater cooling effect on the planet.

As to the extent of their cooling effect, scientists offer different scenarios that would raise the global average surface temperature during the next century between under 2 to over 3 degrees Celsius. That may not sound like a broad range, but it straddles the 2-degree tipping point beyond which scientists say the planet can expect more catastrophic climate change effects.

The satellite data that these findings poke holes in has been used to argue that all these models overestimate how hot the planet will get.

“The satellite estimates are way too small,” said Joyce Penner, the Ralph J. Cicerone Distinguished University Professor of Atmospheric Science. “There are things about the global model that should fit the satellite data but don’t, so I won’t argue that the models necessarily are correct. But we’ve explained why satellite estimates and the models are so different.”

Penner and her colleagues found faults in the techniques that satellite estimates use to find the difference between cloud drop concentrations today and before the Industrial Revolution.

“We found that using satellite data to try to infer how much radiation is reflected today compared to the amount reflected in the pollution-free pre-industrial atmosphere is very inaccurate,” Penner said. “If one uses the relationship between aerosol optical depth—essentially a measure of the thickness of the aerosols—and droplet number from satellites, then one can get the wrong answer by a factor of three to six.”

These findings are a step toward generating better models, and Penner said that will be the next phase of this research.

“If the large uncertainty in this forcing remains, then we will never reduce the range of projected changes in climate below the current range,” she said. “Our findings have shown that we need to be smarter. We simply cannot rely on data from satellites to tell us the effects of aerosols. I think we need to devise a strategy to use the models in conjunction with the satellite data to get the best answers.”

The paper is called “Satellite-methods underestimate indirect climate forcing by aerosols.” The research is funded by NASA.

Released: 7/29/2011  Source: University of Michigan

Via Newswise

Related Link:

http://newswise.com/articles/aerosols-affect-climate-more-than-satellite-estimates-predict

Environmental News: Worldwide Increase in Forest Density Under Way

Newswise — Forests in many regions are becoming larger carbon sinks thanks to higher density, U.S. and European researchers say in a new report.

In Europe and North America, increased density significantly raised carbon storage despite little or no expansion of forest area, according to the study, led by Aapo Rautiainen of the University of Helsinki, Finland, and published in the online, open-access journal PLoS One.

Even in the South American nations studied, more density helped maintain regional carbon levels in the face of deforestation.

The researchers analyzed information from 68 nations, which together account for 72 percent of the world’s forested land and 68 percent of reported carbon mass. They conclude that managing forests for timber growth and density offers a way to increase stored carbon, even with little or no expansion of forest area.

“In 2004 emissions and removals of carbon dioxide from land use, land-use change and forestry comprised about one fifth of total emissions. Tempering the fifth by slowing or reversing the loss of carbon in forests would be a worthwhile mitigation. The great role of density means that not only conservation of forest area but also managing denser, healthier forests can mitigate carbon emission,” says Rautiainen.

Co-author Paul E. Waggoner, a forestry expert with Connecticut’s Agricultural Experiment Station, says remote sensing by satellites of the world’s forest area brings access to remote places and a uniform method. “However, to speak of carbon, we must look beyond measurements of area and apply forestry methods traditionally used to measure timber volumes.”

“Forests are like cities – they can grow both by spreading and by becoming denser,” says co-author Iddo Wernick of The Rockefeller University’s Program for the Human Environment.

The authors say most regions and almost all temperate nations have stopped losing forest and the study’s findings constitute a new signal of what co-author Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller calls “The Great Reversal” under way in global forests after centuries of loss and decline. “Opportunities to absorb carbon and restore the world’s forests can come through increasing density or area or both.”

To examine how changing forest area and density affect timber volume and carbon, the study team first focused on the United States, where the U.S. Forest Service has conducted a continuing inventory of forest area, timberland area and growing stock since 1953.

They found that while U.S. timberland area grew only 1 percent between 1953 and 2007, the combined national volume of growing stock increased by an impressive 51 percent. National forest density increased substantially.

For an international perspective, the research team examined the 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment compiled by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which provides consistent figures for the years 1990 to 2010.

The data reveal uncorrelated changes of forest area and density. Countries in Africa and South America, which lost about 10 percent of their forest area over the two decades, lost somewhat less carbon, indicating a small rise in forest density.

In Asia during the second decade of the study period, density rose in 10 of the region’s 21 countries. Indonesia’s major loss of density and sequestered carbon, however, offset any gain in carbon storage in other Asian nations.

Europe, like the U.S., demonstrated substantial density gains, adding carbon well in excess of the estimated carbon absorbed by the larger forested area.

Says study co-author Pekka Kauppi, of the University of Helsinki, Finland, “With so much bad news available on World Environment Day, we are pleased to report that, of 68 nations studied, forest area is expanding in 45 and density is also increasing in 45. Changing area and density combined had a positive impact on the carbon stock in 51 countries.”
Released: 6/17/2011
Source: Rockefeller University

Via NEWSWISE

Related Link:

http://www.newswise.com/articles/worldwide-increase-in-forest-density-under-way?ret=/articles/list&category=science&page=1&search[status]=3&search[sort]=date+desc&search[section]=20&search[has_multimedia]=