A Big-Picture Look at Progress, Problems in Battling HIV/AIDS

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Here’s a must­-read: “AIDS: lessons learnt and myths dispelled,” in The Lancet.


The piece is written by Peter Piot, director of the Institute for Global Health at Imperial College London; Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Mark Dybul, former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator now at Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law; and Julian Lob-Levyt, executive secretary of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization.


If those marquee names aren’t enough to pique your interest, the authors, in the first paragraph, promise to explore what the international community “got right, what we got wrong, and why we need to urgently dispel several emerging myths” nearly 30 years after the HIV/AIDS epidemic first emerged.


The authors say that one mistake was underestimating “the extent to which stigma and discrimination—against people living with HIV and those most vulnerable to it—would remain formidable obstacles to tackling AIDS.”


One disappointment: “Notwithstanding the optimistic projections of the US Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler in 1984, that an AIDS vaccine would be ready for testing in about 2 years, we still seem many years away from either a vaccine or a microbicide to protect against HIV transmission, especially after a recent series of disappointing trial results.”


One myth they try to knock down: that HIV prevention is not working. “In many countries on several continents, changes in sexual behaviour (such as waiting longer to become sexually active, having fewer partners, and increased condom use) have been followed by reductions in the number of new HIV infections, providing evidence that efforts to change behaviour can and do work.” (Take note, Pope Benedict XVI.)


Here’s a link to the The Lancet’s website to see the full article.






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