HIV/AIDS Should Be Declared Disaster, BMJ ‘Education and Debate’ Piece Says
HIV/AIDS is one of the "most serious disasters to have affected humankind" and should be declared a formal disaster, according to an "Education and debate" article written by medical and public health students and a professor of international health and published in the Nov. 8 issue of BMJ. The epidemic has killed more than 23 million people; 42 million people worldwide are HIV-positive; and only 5% of HIV-positive people have access to antiretroviral drugs, the authors note. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is "unique" because the disease most often strikes young adults who are "essential to a society's current stability, potential economic growth and functioning in the next generation." According to the authors, declaring HIV/AIDS a formal disaster could have several benefits for efforts to tackle the epidemic. The three steps involved in formal disaster response are declaring a formal disaster, enacting appropriate policy actions and organizing an appropriate management system. Individual countries have the "primary responsibility" for declaring situations disasters, according to the authors. A country that declares a formal disaster shows the international community that it is seeking to address a "critical situation," and the declaration can serve as a basis to appeal for humanitarian aid. A formal disaster declaration allows countries to override "legal, operational and bureaucratic obstacles" that could impede emergency response and to apply for compulsory licenses to manufacture and import generic drugs, including antiretroviral drugs, according to the authors (Stabinski et al., BMJ, 11/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.