Naina Dhingra

Advocates for Youth

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.


All Work

Leaked Memo from World Bank

Naina Dhingra

We obtained a confidential letter from Juan José Daboub to the World Bank board members, denying that he removed references to family planning from a Madagascar grant or any official policies.

Wolfowitz Comes Under Fire for Personal and Political Blunders

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.


The annual spring meetings of the World Bank will be held this weekend in Washington, D.C. amidst turmoil and controversy surrounding its head, Paul Wolfowitz. Wolfowitz, better known for his role as a former Bush official central to the planning of the Iraq war, came under fire yesterday for impropriety surrounding the promotion and pay raise of his girlfriend, Shaha Riza. Wolfowitz, who has been outspoken on the need to get rid of corruption in development during his tenure at the World Bank, made the hourly CNN newsfeed for helping Riza secure a high paying special assignment to the State Department when he joined the Bank.

As if he didn't have enough problems, the Financial Times reported last night that reproductive health policies have been under attack under Wolfowitz due to the appointment of Juan José Daboub to managing director. Daboub is a former member of the ruling conservative party of Ecuador. The FT reports that Daboub is "attempting to radically alter a long-standing health strategy at the World Bank" and that "there was a widespread perception within the bank that the emphasis on contraception in preventing disease was being altered following the appointment [of Daboub]."

IOM Says Abstinence-Until-Marriage Earmark Hinders Global HIV Prevention Efforts

Naina Dhingra

Last Friday, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published their long awaited congressionally mandated report evaluating the implementation of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). For weeks, advocates have been anticipating the findings of the report with little rumor of its outcomes. We were not disappointed. The 314 page report, PEPFAR Implementation: Progress and Promise, was well worth the $37.50 download fee. The IOM found:

The Committee has been unable to find evidence for the position that abstinence can stand alone or that 33 percent is the appropriate allocation for such activities even within integrated programs.

There is, however, little evidence to show that ABC when separated out into its components is as effective as the comprehensive approach.

ACT UP Turns 20

Naina Dhingra

Twenty years ago this month, one of the most powerful activist movements was born—the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power—better known as ACT UP. ACT UP has accomplished many things in 20 years but perhaps the most powerful is the lessons that it has to offer the reproductive justice movement in the current political climate.

ACT UP was born in New York on March 10, 1987 after activists at a meeting at the LGBT Community Center decided that political action needed to be taken to respond to AIDS. Two weeks later, ACT UP held its first demonstration to protest the high price of AZT—the sole AIDS drug at the time. Activists, made up of those living with HIV and their allies, held a "die-in" on Wall Street and disrupted the opening bell. ACT UP put the national spotlight on the high cost of AIDS drugs. Before long, ACT UP became known for their media-savvy political actions targeted at the pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices.

Global Fund Executive Director Selected

Naina Dhingra

The race for the Executive Director for the Global Fund finally ended after several months of uncertainty. The Board of the institution met Thursday in Geneva to review the second round of applications for the position at an emergency meeting that was called for last October after failing to select a candidate. Dr. Michel Kazatchkine, one of the two frontrunners from the first round, was selected.

The State of the Union and HIV/AIDS

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.

I remember the night of January 28, 2003 well. For days prior, there had been a flurry of emails speculating that President Bush might perhaps mention global AIDS and that he just might announce a major new U.S. government initiative to tackle the pandemic in his State of the Union. At the time, I was a college AIDS activist with the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC) at George Washington (GW) University and a member of the International Youth Leadership Council with Advocates for Youth. I lived and breathed the global AIDS movement. SGAC had formed just a few months earlier on the passion and commitments of a small group of students from Harvard, GW, University of Maryland, Yale, and several other universities. We were young, inspired, and believed that we could change the world.

Finding Hope in Kenya: Growing Up With HIV

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.

The drive is one you don't forget: a terrible pot-holed road from town usually filled with bumper to bumper traffic. But the destination is well worth the price. Karen, a wealthy Nairobi suburb of mizungus (Swahili for "white people") is usually not a destination for those working in international development. Kangemi and Kibera, the slums of Nairobi, are more up our alley. But tucked away in Karen is an inspiring program called Nyumbani. Nyumbani, which means "home" in Swahili, is a home for HIV+ children who have been orphaned or abandoned.

BREAKING NEWS: Continuing the Search

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.

After two days and nearly twenty-two hours of deliberations, the Board of the Global Fund Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was unable to select a candidate for Executive Director and decided to reopen the search. The Board of the Global Fund is unlike any multilateral institution. There are twenty voting board seats divided equally between donors and recipients. There are also seats for foundations and the private sector (counted in the donor block) and for developed country NGOs, developing country NGOs, and people living with the three diseases (counted in the recipient block). In order for a candidate to be selected, a two-thirds majority in both the donor and recipient block was needed. Unfortunately, this consensus was not achieved.

The Impact of AIDS in Guatemala

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.

I had thought that my visits to Global Fund projects would show me what AIDS looked like in a middle-income Latin American country. In fact, they showed me much more. In a mere one day of visiting projects, I saw not only how AIDS impacts Guatemala, but how sexual exploitation, drug abuse, violence, rape, early fertility, and lack of economic opportunity are inextricably linked to the root causes of the disease.

We started our day by visiting the Hospital Roosevelt, which is one of the largest recipients of Global Fund money in Guatemala. It is a public hospital that provides free treatment and services, with a reputation for treating patients with respect and dignity regardless of socioeconomic class. Approximately sixty percent of its resources come from the Global Fund.

There is a misconception that AIDS in Latin America is a disease of men who have sex with men. But as I stood in the waiting room of the AIDS clinic at the Hospital Roosevelt, the faces that looked up at me were young women.

Who Will Be the Next Leader of the Global Fund?

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.

What do the President of MTV International, the former Norwegian Minister of International Development, and a senior Republican Congressman from Arizona have in common? They all are candidates for the top job at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. As I wrote in my last blog, it truly is election season this November.

The 14th Board meeting of the Global Fund starts this week in Guatemala City and the most important decision Board members will make is the selection of who will take the reigns and lead this start-up development institution to maturity. The Global Fund was born just five years ago as an experiment in development and health financing. At the outset, the vision of the Global Fund was to serve as financing mechanism rather than an implementing agency by putting countries in the driver's seat to develop programs to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. History has proven that the experiment and the vision worked.

Election Mayhem

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.
There is no doubt that the outcome of the upcoming U.S. Congressional elections will have a major impact on the sexual and reproductive health of women and youth worldwide. Consequently, policy advocates are closely watching each race.

But these are not the only elections that will determine the future of sexual and reproductive health. Two of the most important international public health jobs are currently in the midst of highly-political selection processes: the Director-General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and malaria.

Abstinence or Abstinence-Only?

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.

At Wednesday's government reform hearing convened by Congressman Chris Shays on the abstinence-until-marriage earmark, Ambassador Mark Dybul, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, testified that the U.S. government does not fund "abstinence-only" programs. Repeatedly, U.S. government officials have stated that PEPFAR prevention programs are not abstinence-only and follow an evidence-based ABC approach.

Sorry, Ambassador Dybul, but we're not buying it.

Desperately Seeking Condoms in Toronto

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.

Throughout the International AIDS Conference, I've repeatedly heard about how the U.S. government is the largest buyer of condoms. Yet, at the same time, youth and people from PEPFAR countries kept telling me that, back home, access to condoms is a major issue. So where exactly are the condoms? Well, after a week at the conference in Toronto, I've decided that all the condoms are clearly right here. Over the week, I've amassed a sizable collection of at least 75 different types of condoms in all different colors and packaging. My favorites have been the goodies from UNFPA and MTV. UNFPA packaged a male and female condom together in brightly colored pouches usually used to carry jewelry. The MTV Staying Alive initiative packaged them in pocket containers, like the kind that carry mints, and gave them out at last night's premier party of their 48fest films - their project where young people were given cameras to develop films about AIDS in 48 hours.

So what seems to be the issue? If hundreds of thousand of condoms can get to Toronto, why aren't they getting to young people in PEPFAR countries? Is the U.S. government so stuck on the myth that condoms will actually cause young people to have sex?

Morals or Politics?

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.

Last night, the government of Sweden hosted a satellite session investigating the question of morals and politics in HIV prevention. The session should have been renamed "Speaking Out Against the U.S. Government's Moralistic Approach to HIV Prevention." The Swedish Ambassador for HIV/AIDS, Lennarth Hjelmaker, introduced the session by discussing Sweden's approach to HIV. Sweden has prioritized sexual and reproductive health as a key component to successful HIV prevention and is stepping up its involvement in the global community. This is good news for the sexual and reproductive health and rights community as Sweden is the new chair of the UNAIDS governing board known as the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB).

PEPFAR Abstinence-Only Policies Come Under Fire

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.

PEFPAR's prevention policies are under the microscope this week at the International AIDS Conference. There is a sense of outrage from the global community about the U.S. abstinence-until-marriage approach.

"It is illegitimate to dictate terms to governments that have their own policies and priorities and own ways to deal with the response," exclaimed Ambassador Stephen Lewis on the topic of U.S. global HIV prevention policy at a press conference convened this morning by the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO), and Advocates for Youth. "No government in the western world has the right to dictate policy to African governments in how they structure their response. That's called conditionality. That's totally unacceptable in today's world," Ambassador Lewis said.

BREAKING NEWS: The 9th Member of the G8?

Naina Dhingra

Naina Dhingra is the Director of International Policy at Advocates for Youth and serves on the Developed Country NGO Board Delegation of the Global Fund.

Bill and Melinda Gates showed their generosity again today by announcing a new $500 million contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. The five year contribution makes $200 million available immediately for the upcoming sixth funding round for which countries are currently applying.

The Global Fund was created by the international community as an innovative public/private partnership. In just four and a half years, the Global Fund has committed over $5.5 billion to over 132 countries. Instead of being driven by donor interests and policies, countries determine for themselves their needs and submit proposals to the Global Fund for financing. The proposals are evaluated by an independent body of world renowned technical experts and then are sent for approval to the Global Fund's governing board. The Board includes representatives of donor and recipient governments, civil society, the private sector, and affected communities. A Secretariat in Geneva is responsible for signing the grants and working with countries to ensure results-based progress.

The Global Fund is crucial to women's and young people's sexual and reproductive health as it is a donor agency that is not bound by ideological donor restrictions. The Global Fund is committed to funding science-based approaches and respecting the rights of countries in determining programs that match their needs.

New Bill Introduced to Repeal Failing Abstinence-Until-Marriage Earmark

Naina Dhingra

Congress is finally responding to research showing that in a number of African countries, married women are at a higher risk for HIV than their unmarried counterparts. In light of this and other research, the time has come to repeal the abstinence-until-marriage earmark from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Ground-breaking legislation to accomplish this goal was introduced yesterday by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congressman Jim Leach (R-IA), Congressman Chris Shays (R-CT), and 54 Democratic Members of the House of Representatives.

The “Protection Against Transmission of HIV for Women and Youth Act of 2006” (H.R.5674) repeals the congressional earmark that requires PEPFAR to allocate 33% of HIV prevention funding for abstinence-until-marriage programs.

Youth Play Significant Role in Confusing UN Process

Naina Dhingra

So after months of preparation and work, we’re finally at the close of the UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. Was it worth it? What did we get? What did we learn? And where do we go from here?

Let’s start with the process. “Dazed and confused” best captures our attempts to fathom the torturous negotiations around the political declaration. The lack of transparency resulted from the fact that the UN instituted a completely new process for this meeting jettisoning the standard procedures that we all understood and that provided a pretty clear read on individual nation’s positions on various issues. The new approach featured a convoluted co-chair process that cloaked individual nation’s intentions and created new drafts without governments really negotiating the tough issues together.

NGOs were extremely frustrated with the co-chairs and did not feel they were receptive to civil society views. The whole affair felt like a rush to consensus by avoiding the real issues- a perception that only fueled further discontent. Governments friendly to our issues such as EU and Canada felt the co-chairs were openly hostile to them for continuing to request changes in the document. The President of the General Assembly intervened and became intricately involved in the document drafting after pressure from civil society.

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