20 March 2009
Geneva – New global challenges are competing for the attention of political leaders amid a severe financial crisis, just as a myth has begun to emerge that too much money is being spent on tackling AIDS, the leading cause of death in Africa and the sixth highest worldwide, according to an article co-written by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Executive Director, Michel Kazatchkine.
Jointly authored by Peter Piot, the former head of UNAIDS who is now at the Global Institute of Global Health, Imperial College, London, Mark Dybul of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, Julian Lob-Levyt, Executive Secretary of the Gavi Alliance and Michel Kazatchkine, the viewpoint article, entitled “AIDS: lessons learnt and myths dispelled,” was published in the Lancet on Friday.
As the AIDS epidemic approaches its fourth decade, the authors examine “what we – the international community – got right, what we got wrong, and why we need to urgently dispel several emerging myths about the epidemic and the global response to it.”
The authors dismiss a number of myths surrounding the disease:
The authors also say the international community in the early 1980s underestimated the global effect the disease would have and the extent to which stigma and discrimination would remain formidable obstacles to tackling AIDS. But the sense of urgency that would eventually develop in the global AIDS movement was also underestimated and this has led to “an unusual convergence of political will, money and science.”
On the other hand, the international community overestimated the speed with which the epidemic would spread in regions other than sub-Saharan Africa and was also excessively optimistic about “our capacity to devise technological solutions to prevent HIV.” The authors add: “We still seem many years away from either a vaccine or a microbicide to protect against HIV transmission.”
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