Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Rounds Up Continuing Reaction to International AIDS Conference
Newspapers and media outlets around the world this week have continued to react to the XIV International AIDS Conference, which ended last Friday in Barcelona, Spain. Summaries of editorials and opinion pieces appear below in alphabetical order:
- Ft. Worth Star-Telegram: The United States "historically has lagged behind" many other Western nations in providing medicines to combat diseases in the developing world, but the Senate's passage of a bill authorizing nearly $5 billion in HIV/AIDS spending over two years is a "step" toward changing that, a Star-Telegram editorial states. The funding "should come as welcome news" to the protestors at the conference who interrupted a speech by HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson to protest the level of U.S. spending, the editorial says (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 7/17).
- Minneapolis Star Tribune: The news about the spread of HIV/AIDS is "more dismal than ever," a Star Tribune editorial states, noting that "efforts to combat the disease are being far outstripped by its rapid spread." The editorial says that "[i]f there is any hope of reversing the deadly trends, all nations must pour resources into education, awareness, prevention and treatment." The Star Tribune concludes, "No one on earth can afford to think of the HIV/AIDS threat as simply a distant problem. ... It is a security threat and should be funded accordingly. ... Either we put everything we've got into curbing the epidemic today, or face the international chaos, broken families and lost children that millions of deaths will cause tomorrow" (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 7/16).
- New York Times: "Bridging the gap between rich and poor AIDS sufferers is imperative," a Times editorial states, noting that 95% of people with HIV live in countries where antiretroviral treatment is not readily available. Research presented at the conference demonstrated that prevention and treatment "can work in practically any setting," the editorial states, concluding, "But to go from pilot projects to coverage for millions of people takes money, and rich countries have not yet grasped the urgency" (New York Times, 7/18).
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "As one of the world's wealthiest nations, the United States has a moral responsibility to help attack the AIDS scourge -- and should do more," a Post-Gazette editorial states, noting that the United States has focused past efforts primarily on preventing vertical HIV transmission instead of on education and treatment. "[H]ealth officials can't afford to focus on just one type of aid; they need to employ a combination of these strategies," the editorial states. However, "emptying money into AIDS-afflicted African countries -- which are ground zero for the epidemic -- is not necessarily the answer, as many are riddled with corruption," the Post-Gazette says, adding, "Money can buy medicine but it can't buy good governance and enlightenment" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 7/15).
- Noeleen Heyzer, Christian Science Monitor: Women are "fundamentally more affected by the [HIV/AIDS] epidemic than men," Noeleen Heyzer, executive director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women, writes in an opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor. According to UNAIDS statistics released last week to coincide with the conference, women now account for 49.8% of the 37 million adults with HIV. However, that figure does not take into account the fact that women are even more affected due to social and cultural traditions that place them in caregiver roles, Heyzer says. Many of these traditions, which deny women power in relationships, also place women at an increased risk for HIV because they have "little if any means to protect themselves against infection," she says. Heyzer concludes, "If we are to tame and reverse the AIDS epidemic, we need to protect women's human rights and put an end to laws that violate them" (Heyzer, Christian Science Monitor, 7/18).
- DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: "Current efforts to combat the spread of [HIV] fall way short of what is needed to avoid a human crisis of the magnitude that has not been seen since the days of the Black Death," USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham states, adding that "[w]hat the worldwide fight against AIDS needs is some 'new think' -- an approach to combating this crisis that mirrors the Manhattan Project" undertaken in the 1940s to develop the atomic bomb. Such a project would pull resources and researchers from around the world to work on developing an effective AIDS vaccine, he says, noting that at the same time, antiretroviral medications should be made available to "every infected person regardless of his or her ability to pay." Wickham acknowledges such a plan would be costly, but says that the cost of "letting AIDS depopulate Africa and spread throughout Asia and Eastern Europe will be even higher" (Wickham, USA Today, 7/16).