Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorials, Opinion Piece on UNAIDS Report, UNGASS
Two editorials and an opinion piece recently addressed the UNAIDS report -- which was released on Tuesday and estimates that at the end of 2005, 38.6 million people worldwide were living with HIV -- as well as U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS. According to the report, in 2005, roughly 4.1 million people contracted HIV, and 2.8 million died of AIDS-related causes compared with the 2004 estimate of 4.9 million new HIV cases and 3.1 million deaths (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/31). Summaries of these pieces appear below:
Los Angeles Times: The UNAIDS report, which will be "Topic A" at the UNGASS meeting, is an "atlas of failure for world governments and relief organizations" because "[m]ost of the goals set in 2001 not only haven't been met, they aren't even close to being met," a Times editorial says. "The [United Nations] this week will decry last year's failures while reconfirming next year's goals, but what it won't do is hold anyone accountable," the editorial says, concluding, "Until it starts doing that, it's doomed to more annual meetings assessing what went wrong" (Los Angeles Times, 5/31).
- New York Times: HIV/AIDS advocates fear that delegates at UNGASS who are drafting a new plan for addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide are "watering down the original plan" and that "the world is moving backward" in its commitment to combat the disease, according to a Times editorial. In the most recent draft, Europe and the U.S. have "successfully opposed" the inclusion of "specific targets that would have provided clear, periodic measurements" of countries' progress on fighting HIV/AIDS, the editorial says. Also, "on issues of interest to religious conservatives," the U.S. and Syria are "holding down one side, joined at times by the Vatican and Saudi Arabia," the editorial says, adding that the word "condom" has "gone missing" from the plan. In addition, the U.S. "has insisted on taking out all references to 'evidence-based prevention strategies'" and replacing them with the phrase "'evidence-informed prevention strategies,'" the editorial says, concluding, "Apparently, the Bush administration feels the need to make room for strategies that are not proven to work" (New York Times, 6/1).
- Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Boston Globe: In advance of the UNGASS meeting, African leaders came to a "consensus on the best way forward" in the fight against HIV/AIDS, South African Minister of Health Tshabalala-Msimang writes in a Globe opinion piece. The consensus includes a "renewed focus on prevention" and an agreement that HIV/AIDS efforts "would be better served if the international donor community were to align itself more closely with the plans that Africans are establishing for themselves," according to Tshabalala-Msimang. For example, South Africa two years ago established an HIV/AIDS program that focuses on prevention, comprehensive health care including traditional medicine and access to antiretroviral treatment, Tshabalala-Msimang writes. "Due to the limited resources available to combat HIV and AIDS, the more inclusive we make the priorities that we set, the better," Tshabalala-Msimang says (Tshabalala-Msimang, Boston Globe, 5/26).