Testing Should Be Priority in Fight Against HIV/AIDS Pandemic, Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS President Says
HIV testing should be the priority in curbing the spread of the virus worldwide, former U.N. Ambassador and President of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS Richard Holbrooke said on Friday in Beijing at a summit on business and HIV/AIDS in China, Reuters/Yahoo! Asia News reports. HIV testing should be routine for surgery patients, couples getting married and pregnant women, Holbrooke said, adding that such a policy would require confidentiality guarantees. Holbrooke also had "harsh words" for the World Health Organization, saying its emphasis on providing antiretroviral treatment is "misplaced" because a majority of people living with HIV/AIDS do not know their status, Reuters/Yahoo! Asia News reports. "The failure to test is the weakest link in the policy. If testing is not encouraged, AIDS will become, worldwide, the ultimate weapon of mass destruction," he said. Holbrooke had "harsher words" for the agency's 3 by 5 Initiative, which aims to treat three million people with antiretroviral drugs by the end of this year, saying that the initiative's goal could not be reached, Reuters/Yahoo! Asia News reports. "Even if they did get to 3 by 5, they wouldn't catch up with the spread. The only way to get there is with testing," Holbrooke said. WHO officials in Beijing were not available for comment, according to Reuters/Yahoo! Asia News (Beck, Reuters/Yahoo! Asia News, 3/18). During the summit, Chinese Vice Premier and Minister of Health Wu Yi said that international and domestic businesses should increase their efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS in China, AFP/Khaleej Times reports. "AIDS prevention is an important responsibility of the Chinese government and is also a responsibility that must be shared by society, including business enterprises," Wu said, adding, "I hope our entrepreneurs, while they are developing their businesses, would also participate broadly in public welfare at the same time" (AFP/Khaleej Times, 3/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.