Reuters (02.05.10) - Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Waning global attention to the HIV epidemic is dangerous and
would allow more "waves" of the disease to arise, says a
leading expert from KwaZulu-Natal University in South Africa.
"There seems to be a perception now that it has been dealt
with and we can turn our attention to other issues," said Alan
Whiteside, director of the university's health economics and
HIV/AIDS research division. "This is most emphatically not the
case in a number of parts of the world."
"We don't seem to have got our head around prevention in the
hyper-endemic countries," Whiteside said. "We've still got new
cases occurring - and that's ridiculous, it's stupid,
especially when you look ahead and see what that means in
terms of the numbers of people that will need treatment. If we
don't put our effort into prevention, we're likely to see more
Whiteside called for funding to educate and equip health
workers to conduct prevention outreach efforts. Such campaigns
must include information not only about AIDS itself, but on
the impact of the disease on society. In addition to its
personal impact, AIDS can damage the health and agriculture
sectors of an economy, both crucial to bringing a country out
AIDS is competing for world leaders' attention with conditions
such as climate change and the environment, Whiteside said.
But a shift in priorities endangers funding for those now
receiving HIV treatment through international channels.
"At the moment, millions of Africans are on HIV/AIDS treatment
courtesy of the Americans, the Global Fund, and other donors.
Those treatments have to be for life, so if we see a
redeployment of funding, people are simply going to die,"