Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Opinion Pieces Published on World AIDS Day
Several newspapers and news magazines recently published opinion pieces about HIV/AIDS in recognition of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. Summaries of some of the pieces appear below.
- Margaret Johnston/Anthony Fauci, Baltimore Sun: "The ultimate defeat of HIV/AIDS will require a multifaceted effort but will be difficult, if not impossible, without a safe and effective preventive HIV vaccine," Johnston, assistant director for HIV/AIDS vaccines at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and NIAID Director Fauci, write in a Sun opinion piece. Although "[p]rogress is being made" in developing a safe and effective vaccine, "it will be nearly impossible" to find enough volunteers for vaccine trials if "Americans continue to believe misinformation" about trial safety measures, Johnston and Fauci say, adding, "Credible spokesmen and women must repeat ... that volunteers in preventive vaccine trials cannot contract HIV from the vaccines being tested" (Johnston/Fauci, Baltimore Sun, 12/1).
- Rachael Jones et al., BMJ: "[I]nvestment in prevention research ... remains paramount" in order to "make a sustainable impact on the global epidemic of HIV infection," Jones and Brian Gazzard, a specialist registrar and professor, respectively, in the Department of HIV and GU Medicine at London's Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and Yasmin Halima, a senior consultant with the International AIDS Society, write in a BMJ opinion piece. Although antiretroviral treatment now is less expensive and more widely available than it was several years ago, "[p]rovision of treatment may be hindered by availability or infrastructural capacity," the authors write. However, several preventive measures -- such as microbicides, male circumcision and the administration of antiretroviral drugs before exposure to HIV -- are showing promise, the authors write (Jones et al., BMJ, 12/3).
- Peter Lamptey, Boston Globe: The successes of Brazil, Botswana, Cambodia and Uganda in fighting HIV/AIDS "demonstrat[e] that the most effective policymaking to fight AIDS takes place not in New York or Geneva, but on the front lines of the epidemic," Lamptey, president of Family Health International's Institute for HIV/AIDS, writes in a Globe opinion piece. Cooperation between initiatives such as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and governments in the developing world, which are "fueled by true political will, remain the backbone for action in the global campaign against" the pandemic, he concludes (Lamptey, Boston Globe, 12/1).
- Isiaah Crawford, Chicago Sun-Times: President Bush and his administration should "provide the same leadership" they have shown in preparing for a "potential" avian flu pandemic to fight "the very real and present pandemic of HIV/AIDS," Crawford, board president of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, writes in a Sun-Times letter to the editor. A $1.5 billion increase in federal funding for domestic HIV/AIDS programs recommended by the Congressional Black Caucus "would be an appropriate, compassionate response," Crawford writes, adding that instead, "the Bush administration has released a plan to cut millions of dollars in funding to areas hardest hit by the epidemic" (Crawford, Chicago Sun-Times, 12/1).
- Salih Booker/Ann-Louise Colgan, Detroit Free Press: The question of whether pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to hold patents on HIV/AIDS treatments that "give them monopoly pricing power" is "central to defeating AIDS," Booker, executive director of Africa Action, and Colgan, director of policy analysis and communications at Africa Action, write in a Free Press opinion piece. According to Booker and Colgan, the U.S. and other higher-income countries are hurting the effort to provide universal access to treatment by 2010 by "promoting the drug companies' interests through their policies," such as only using brand-name drugs in treatment programs. Meanwhile, the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which provides grants for "effective treatment and care programs in dozens of African countries" that use generic drugs, lacks the funding necessary to contine to fund those programs, they write (Booker/Colgan, Detroit Free Press, 12/1).
- Former President Clinton, Financial Times: Governments, organizations and individuals need to "redouble" their efforts to "reverse the tide" of HIV infections across the world, Clinton -- who heads the Clinton Foundation, which operates the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative -- writes in a Times opinion piece. Clinton lists three steps that must be taken to "prevail" against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, including organizing efforts to "build clinics, strengthen distribution systems, and recruit and train health care workers"; keeping the cost of HIV medications affordable; and preventing new infections. Clinton also says health officials "cannot lose sight of the need for a vaccine as a long-term solution and a microbicide in the interim" (Clinton, Financial Times, 12/1).
- Xanderia Stewart/JoAnn Williams, Philadelphia Inquirer: "We are still at war with a disease that can take anyone hostage," Xanderia Stewart, housing counselor for BEBASHI, an HIV/AIDS organization that serves the black community in Philadelphia, and JoAnn Williams, a BEBASHI case manager, write in an Inquirer opinion piece. They note that while the services available for those living with HIV/AIDS have improved significantly, there are budget cutbacks in a time when "we should be thinking about ways to expand and improve existing services." Stewart and Williams write, "We urge you to spark up a conversation with your friends, students, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents and your partners ... to find out how much they know about the services available to them or someone they may know who has contracted the disease" (Stewart/Williams, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/1).
- Margaret Schuler, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Americans have a historic opportunity" to make a difference in the fight against AIDS, "and the scale of federal funding to fight [the disease] ... ought to match the scale of the problem," guest columnist Schuler writes in a Post-Intelligencer opinion piece. Schuler, who is the deputy director for programs at Save the Children in Ethiopia notes that more than 1.5 million U.S. citizens have joined the ONE Campaign to urge Congress to allocate an additional 1% of the federal budget for effective international aid, which "has the power to transform a generation in such places as Ethiopia." She adds, "Only our voices joined with local action can give these children back their childhood and raise their chances for a future" (Schuler, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/30).
- Betsy Lieberman, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: For people living with HIV/AIDS, securing affordable housing can be "a near unfathomable goal," Lieberman, executive director of AIDS Housing of Washington, writes in a Post-Intelligencer opinion piece. Therefore, federal funding for housing-assistance programs should be increased because without "a stable, safe housing situation, it can be nearly impossible" for HIV-positive patients to maintain their drug regimens, Lieberman says (Lieberman, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/30).
- Marshall Matz and Karen Sendelback, Washington Times: "Food and nutrition are ... vital weapons in the struggle against HIV/AIDS," and the "effectiveness of that multibillion-dollar investment could be greatly enhanced by" greater access to food worldwide, Friends of the World Food Program Chair of the Board Matz and FWFP CEO Sendelback write in a Times opinion piece. Making "food and good nutrition ... part of the anti-AIDS package will maximize the effect of the U.S. government's great investment to combat AIDS in Africa," the authors conclude (Matz/Sendelback, Washington Times, 12/1).