Prevention, Treatment Both Important in Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Brazilian Official Tells U.N. Population Meeting
Prevention and treatment efforts are both important in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Dr. Paulo Teixeira, a senior consultant for Brazil's National STD/AIDS Programme in the country's Ministry of Health, said on Thursday at a weeklong, annual meeting of the U.N. Commission on Population and Development in New York, the U.N. News Service reports (U.N. News Service, 4/7). The theme of the session -- which began April 4 and is expected to end Friday -- is population, development and HIV/AIDS, with a focus on poverty (Deen, Inter Press Service, 4/6). Teixeira called for an end to the competing strategies, saying that a "false dilemma" between prevention and treatment has caused "unnecessary losses" and "wasted precious time," according to the U.N. News Service. He added that all countries that have been successful in controlling their HIV/AIDS epidemics have policies that promote condom use (U.N. News Service, 4/7). "Based on international experiences, today there is no evidence whatsoever that moral recommendations, such as abstinence and fidelity, have any impact that might prevent infection and curb the epidemic," he said, adding, "We are aware that the promotion of safer sex involves serious cultural, ethical and religious matters, but we cannot allow them to become a barrier for prevention." Brazil -- which is among the world's "most successful" developing nations in combating its HIV/AIDS epidemic -- has an AIDS prevalence rate of less than 0.6% of the population, Reuters reports (Arieff, Reuters, 4/6).
"We need a global strategy that takes into account the AIDS epidemic in all actions to promote development and to fight poverty, including economic adjustment plans and foreign debt relief," Teixeira said. In addition to current policies and funding, a "much greater effort" is needed within individual countries and worldwide to slow the spread of the disease, treat HIV-positive people and "minimize" the impact of HIV/AIDS on populations, he said, the U.N. News Service reports. According to Teixeira, some of the issues that require immediate attention include lowering the costs of antiretroviral drugs, providing universal and access at no cost to the drugs to aid compliance and regulation of treatment and reducing women's vulnerability to the disease by implementing the Programme of Action adopted at the 1994 U.N. International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, to allow access to reproductive health services (U.N. News Service, 4/7).