Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorial, Opinion Piece on 25th Anniversary of First AIDS DiagnosisMonday, June 5 was the 25th anniversary of the first AIDS diagnosis. The Wall Street Journal and the Moscow Times recently published an editorial and an opinion piece, respectively, regarding the anniversary and the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS last week.
- Wall Street Journal : In the U.S., "at least, 25 years of HIV/AIDS have brought the battle into perspective," and "after the terrifying assertions and predictions from earlier days about how far and fast the virus would spread here, it is impossible not to see the progress we have made as a success," a Journal editorial says. Early efforts to fight HIV/AIDS "quickly became ensnared in politics" and led to "some bad decisions," such as the failure to close San Francisco's bathhouses until 1986 because of human rights concerns, according to the Journal. However, "perhaps the biggest turning point" came "when AIDS began to be viewed as a public health issue" -- which made "safe behavior both possible and more likely" -- and the number of new annual HIV cases dropped from 150,000 in the mid 1980s to about 40,000 currently, the editorial says. HIV-positive people have "more treatment options than they once did" and "the rest of us" have more prevention information, the editorial says, adding, "The declining rate of new infection in the U.S. is proof that many people have accepted [the] responsibility" of "protect[ing] themselves and others by abstaining from risky behaviors" (Wall Street Journal, 6/9).
- John Tedstrom, Moscow Times: In the past 25 years, "AIDS has shaken the foundations of nations," Tedstrom, president and founder of the Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS and former director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council under former President Clinton, writes in a Times opinion piece (Tedstrom, Moscow Times, 6/8). Tedstrom recently was appointed executive director of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GBC release, 5/25). Although there was "cautious optimism" coming out of UNGASS last week, the "simmering" epidemic in Eurasia could be "catastroph[ic]" unless action is taken by the Group of Eight industrialized nations in partnership with China and India, Tedstrom writes. The international community has been "slo[w]" to address the epidemic in Eurasia, and Russia, China and India in the coming years could add "several million HIV-positive people to today's total, overwhelming their national HIV programs and international support systems," according to Tedstrom. Even though the three countries have "led important improvements in HIV policy in the last few years" and have "increased their budgets for HIV significantly," the total of $630 million in Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria grants allocated to Russia, China and India is "far from enough funding even for today, not to mention tomorrow," Tedstrom writes. He adds that a meeting that began on Thursday of lawmakers and officials from the G8, China and India provides an "historic opportunity" to secure a "sustainable financial base" for fighting HIV/AIDS in the region, enhance public-private partnerships to fight the epidemic, boost scientific collaboration and ensure access to treatment and supplies. "Only the G8 has the political capacity and resource base to deal with challenges of this magnitude," Tedstrom writes, adding, "With leadership from Russia in St. Petersburg and the partnership of China and India, the G8 can add to its positive legacy on HIV/AIDS" (Moscow Times, 6/8).