World ‘Fails To Grasp’ Full ‘Devastation’ of HIV/AIDS, Feachem Says
The world "has still not grasped" the full "devastation" and threat of HIV/AIDS, which has killed 24 million people worldwide and is "still nowhere near its peak," Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said Friday in an interview, Reuters reports. "If we carry on doing as little as we are now, this [pandemic] will not peak until 2050-2060," Feachem said, adding, "It is absolutely devastating and the worst is still ahead." Feachem said that the number of AIDS cases in India could "soon rival" the number of cases in Southern Africa and that the "success" of antiretroviral drugs has "perhaps lulled people into a false sense of security," according to Reuters. He said that both wealthy and developing nations are "in a state of denial" about the full extent of the AIDS threat and economic and social relations cannot exist in countries "whose life expectancies are plummeting" and whose "economies are being undermined" by the disease. "HIV/AIDS is not a humanitarian problem where we have to show charity to people less fortunate than ourselves," Feachem said, adding, "HIV/AIDS is massively, globally destabilizing." Feachem said that while the Global Fund has received more than $2 billion from governments and donors, it will need three times that amount to meet its need over the next two years. Feachem also said that while new money for antiretroviral drugs will allow six times more people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa to receive treatment, the figure is still only six percent of the more than four million Africans living with the disease (Waddington, Reuters, 12/14).
A kaisernetwork.org HealthCast of an interview with Feachem and Global Fund Chair of the Board Crispus Kiyonga is available online.