Success of Antiretroviral Drugs Creates Need for Increased Education Among High-Risk Groups, Editorial Says
The development of new treatments for HIV/AIDS "represents a triumph of medical research" but has also "produced some unexpected pitfalls," including a decline in the use of sterile needles and condoms among injection drug users, a New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial says. Because AIDS is no longer thought to be a "death sentence," some people, such as injection drugs users, have felt less motivated to avoid risky behaviors, the editorial says. For example, researchers from Johns Hopkins University last week said that injection drugs users in Baltimore who think that AIDS is a treatable disease were less likely to use condoms or sterile needles, according to the editorial. Therefore, it is crucial to increase drug rehabilitation programs and "intensify efforts to inform IV drug users in particular of the continuing danger that HIV poses," the editorial says. In addition, public health agencies must communicate that antiretroviral drug regimens are "expensive, inconvenient, hard to follow, full of side effects and, for some patients, ineffective" and that HIV still "remains a terrible burden" for injection drug users or people to whom they might transmit the virus, the editorial concludes (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 9/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.