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Commentary

Prevention is still key to fighting AIDS plague
Franklin Cudjoe, Campaign for Fighting Diseases, 8-14-05

Cudjoe argues that the overriding obsession of the U.N. and many international non-governmental organizations on expanding access to anti-retroviral drugs for AIDS has led the world community to ignore the simple math driving the epidemic. He believes that better prevention is the only way to truly slow the deadly toll of the disease:

The WHO announced in 2003 that it wanted to put three million people on ARVs (anti-retrovirals) by the end of 2005 - the so-called "three by five" programme. The tragedy of this approach is that, by prioritising treatment over prevention, another five million people have since become infected with HIV. According to the best estimates, only about one million people will be on ARVs by the end of 2005, meaning that the WHO's strategy has allowed the epidemic to worsen.

Worse, there is a danger that by obsessing over treatment of HIV/Aids, other curable diseases will be ignored. This is because HIV/Aids has achieved a high political profile. In July, the Group of Eight leaders—apparently suffering from the same delusions as the WHO—announced they want to ensure near-universal access to ARVs by 2010. They just do not seem to have learned. How many millions of people will have to become infected with HIV before the political cliques of the world realise that prevention must have priority?

Cudjoe's critique's is a fair one and it deserves a fair hearing. Unfortunately, the push for ARV access seems have passed beyond the point where policymakers are willing to ask if it is a cost-effective strategy, as opposed to a popular one.



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