Boston Globe Profiles U.S. Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS in African Militaries
The Boston Globe on Tuesday profiled international efforts to fight AIDS among African soldiers, who are at a high risk of contracting HIV because they spend long periods away from home and may visit sex workers. The U.S. Department of Defense four years ago started its HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, which has founded projects in 41 countries, including 29 in sub-Saharan Africa, to help reduce HIV prevalence in the region. Although the program received $14 million in its first year, it has "become less of a priority" and funding has fallen steadily since then to $4.2 million this year, according to the Globe. However, Dr. Richard Shaffer, who manages the program, said he expects it to "significantly expand" in the coming years in the 14 countries included under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Globe reports. Although U.S. officials do not have evidence of whether the programs have helped to directly reduce HIV transmission, the efforts have produced "tangible outcomes," according to the Globe. For example, studies have indicated that soldiers are using condoms in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Eritrea, and military bases throughout Africa have opened HIV testing and counseling centers. The programs already have begun to change behaviors and attitudes and have provided access to antiretroviral drugs in military hospitals, according to AIDS experts and African officials. Although UNAIDS and several other nongovernmental organizations also run programs targeting military personnel, the U.S. program has "been the most far-reaching," according to the Globe (Donnelly, Boston Globe, 5/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.