Future Social Changes Worldwide Could Fuel Spread of HIV/AIDS, Inhibit Countries’ Abilities To Respond to Pandemic, Editorial Says
Large-scale political, ecological and social changes over the next few years could fuel a new wave in the HIV/AIDS pandemic and complicate countries' abilities to respond to the outbreaks, according to an editorial review published in the April issue of AIDS, the official journal of the International AIDS Society, Inter Press Service reports. Samuel Friedman, director of the Social Theory Core at the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research at the U.S.-based National Development and Research Institute, and researchers from Argentina, Australia, South Africa and the U.S. identify six "big events" that could impact the spread of HIV/AIDS over the next several years and reverse the progress that countries have made in fighting the pandemic. According to the editorial, "There is a high probability of massive political, ecological and social changes over the next few years, [which] threaten large-scale disruption of existing social and risk networks, sexual (and injection) mixing patterns, and sexual and injection behaviors that can impede or facilitate HIV transmission." The authors recommended that donor agencies, individuals, nongovernmental and community groups be better educated about the pandemic. According to Friedman, "preventing epidemics rather than simply preventing individuals getting infected one by one" is more important in many parts of the world, and, without effective interventions, "[w]e could end up with another half a million to a million people infected very quickly, within five years, possibly less." The authors write that outbreaks are avoidable and call for continued study of specific social risk factors fueling the spread of HIV (Soderlindh, Inter Press Service, 4/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.