Wide-Scale Antiretroviral Use is ‘Only Thing’ That Can Impact Survival for People With HIV/AIDS, Scientist Says
Combination antiretroviral therapy is the "only thing that will really impact on survival" for people with HIV/AIDS, Charles Gilks, a senior adviser to the World Health Organization, said on the BBC program "Health Matters," BBC News reports. WHO has set a target of having three million people with HIV/AIDS on treatment by 2005. Some HIV/AIDS researchers and advocates are concerned that focusing on treatment will detract resources from prevention strategies and programs to care for AIDS orphans. Alan Whiteside, director of the Health, Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division at the University of Natal, said that antiretroviral drugs are "a way forward" but added that "there are things you can use before that. ... There are choices about resources and about priorities." He noted that money for expanded treatment access may currently be available because of increased donations from the international community. However, Whiteside said that there is no guarantee that the funding will remain. "Unless the international community is prepared to make a lifetime commitment we must be very careful about going down that road," he said. Gilks noted that no one "can predict the future" but said an "amazing commitment has been made by the international community" toward fighting HIV/AIDS, and advocates must work to sustain that funding. He added, "No one is advocating stopping the effective prevention activities -- what we are trying to do is expand the array of activities that we can deliver in countries that are badly affected" (BBC News, 8/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.