WHO Director General Emphasizes Need to Confront HIV/AIDS
Although headlines on the global AIDS emergency "have been superseded by other events," World Health Organization Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland writes in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the "AIDS crisis is as real now as a few months ago, and it will continue to grow unless the world is constantly reminded of it and plans to stem the epidemic are turned into action." She notes that the "onus" is on health care professionals "to make sure the momentum is kept up," to intensify efforts, agree on best practices, reach more people and measure results. Prevention, she writes, "is and will be our central focus," and to this end, "[w]e must not shy away from promoting condom use, the most effective method of prevention known." In addition, as pharmaceutical companies continue to reduce drug prices to developing nations, Brundtland notes that the WHO "is focusing ... efforts on developing care regimens that are workable and safe in low-resource settings." She also calls for "essential action" on "fostering research and development of diagnostics, microbicides, and vaccines; monitoring and surveillance of HIV incidence; and ensuring blood safety." Although AIDS has hit some developing countries particularly hard, she writes that wealthier nations continue to battle the disease on their soil as well, noting "disturbing" increases in the U.S. HIV-positive population. Brundtland concludes, "[T]he effects of globalization mean that there no longer is such a thing as a localized health problem. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a global emergency and it calls for global commitment and action" (JAMA, 9/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.