Kaisernetwork.org Update From the XIV International AIDS Conference, July 8
As the world's leading scientists, health care workers and activists debated and discussed the best ways to fight HIV, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson addressed the administration's response to global epidemic. He said "the United States is committed to fight against HIV/AIDS." He also announced that the Bush administration plans to reduce the incidence of HIV "by at least 50%" domestically in eight years. Earlier in the day, the CDC released data indicating that as many as three-fourths of young gay and bisexual men infected with HIV did not know it. Ninety percent of blacks, 70% of Hispanics and 60% of white gay and bisexual men tested said they didn't know they were HIV-positive and even thought they were at low risk for infection. The evident need for more education and prevention efforts was even stressed at the conference's major scientific presentation. Despite initial optimism about the potential of the drugs designed to kill HIV, scientists now conclude current medications will never completely eliminate the virus from an infected person. In several different venues, experts and advocates underscored the need for a global approach to the epidemic because there are continuing indications that HIV is a significant threat to the world's two most populous countries: India and China. And while as recently as five years ago there were very few AIDS cases in Eastern Europe, Russia and the states of the former Soviet Union have the fastest-growing HIV epidemic in the world. A continuing theme throughout the meetings is access to care. Despite the limitations of medication, a number of the sessions indicate that drugs and other therapies work to extend both the length and quality of life of those getting therapy. Peter Piot, the head of UNAIDS, called for "a major new collaboration of drug companies, governments, and nongovernmental organizations" to address this problem (kaisernetwork.org, 7/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.