Satcher Stresses Need for Family, Community Support and Education in Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Speaking at a three-day HIV prevention conference in Los Angeles, U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher emphasized the importance of community and familial involvement in fighting the spread of HIV, the Los Angeles Times reports. The conference, which was sponsored by the UCLA AIDS Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, focused on different HIV education and prevention strategies. Satcher, who was the keynote speaker for the convention, said that community-based health care should serve as a "model" for HIV prevention efforts. Dr. Steven Hyman, director of the National Institute for Mental Health, also emphasized the importance of community support and education. "In medicine, almost all of our interventions have been targeted toward the individual. When it comes to issues like prevention (of AIDS), focus on the individual is not enough. ... If we don't build bridges to the communities, the danger is we will develop interventions that don't have any relevance to real people," Hyman said. Satcher also cited families as a critical source of support and education, stating that because families "are dealing with all ... types of" people with HIV, they often need support in caring for people with the virus. "The family has been at the center of this struggle for a long time," Satcher said. He added that families must educate their children about HIV/AIDS prevention and safe sex, but said that sex education also must come from schools. "When we talk about sex education, we're not just talking about sex. We're talking about human sexuality, what it means to be a sexual being, what it means to appreciate yourself," Satcher said, adding that children who are taught to "respect themselves" may not "give in to peer pressure or make dangerous decisions." Stating that HIV/AIDS is the "worst infectious disease out there right now," Satcher concluded that the United States "cannot afford to ignore the importance of socially based prevention" (Hayasaki, Los Angeles Times, 7/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.