HIV Testing Needs To Be ‘Top Priority,’ Opinion Piece Says
Current strategies on fighting HIV/AIDS "are clearly not working, especially on prevention," so the "dedicated and committed professional community engaged in this desperate struggle" needs to make testing a "top priority," Richard Holbrooke, president of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. Holbrooke says he is writing this column after receiving criticisms in response to his Nov. 29, 2005, Post opinion piece, in which he called for widespread testing (Holbrooke, Washington Post, 1/4). Holbrooke in November 2005 wrote, "We are not winning the war on AIDS, and our current strategies are not working," especially when it comes to testing and detection, adding, "Widespread testing is not a single-bullet solution -- there is none -- but without knowing who is HIV-positive and who is not, there is no chance we can win this war" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/30/05). However, organizations such as UNAIDS and the World Health Organization "still refus[e] to make testing a top priority," Holbrooke writes in his most recent editorial, noting that this refusal is, in part, because of a "mind-set that was locked in 20 years ago, at the dawn of the AIDS crisis" when "stigmatization was a huge problem" and antiretroviral drugs were unavailable. "Recently," there have been "encouraging" actions in Botswana and Malawi that have started to make testing routine, though not mandatory, and in Lesotho, there is a national effort behind the country's new testing campaign, "Know Your Status," Holbrook writes. He adds, "If [the Know Your Status campaign] works, perhaps the high priests of the worldwide effort on AIDS will stop listening to their own echoes and unexamined assumptions -- and take action" by focusing on widespread testing as a method of preventing the spread of HIV. "If ever there were a place where an ounce of prevention was worth a ton of cure, this is it," Holbrooke concludes (Washington Post, 1/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.