Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorials, Opinion Pieces Related to AIDS Conference
Several newspapers have published editorials and opinion pieces in observance of the XVI International AIDS Conference, which is being held Aug. 13 through Aug. 18 in Toronto. Summaries appear below.
Toronto Star: Former President Clinton "complained about the absurd amount of 'red tape' blocking AIDS drugs from reaching Africa" at the AIDS conference Monday, a Star editorial says, adding, "Canada is a prime example of the problem." According to the editorial, "leadership in cutting red tape and delivering badly needed drugs is precisely what has been lacking from" the Canadian government. The country needs to set a deadline on "good-faith bargaining" with patent holders or "quickly issu[e] fair and balanced compulsory licenses" to facilitate access to antiretroviral drugs among countries that need them, the editorial says (Toronto Star, 8/15).
- Edward Mills and Sonal Singh, Toronto Star: "We need to set an example and commit to getting antiretroviral therapies to people who will clearly benefit" from the drugs, Mills, director for the Centre for International Health and Human Rights Studies in Toronto, and Singh, CIHHRS assistant director, write in a Star opinion piece. "The scientific data shows that if" impoverished populations have access to antiretrovirals, "they will take them," Mills and Singh write, adding that "[p]atent issues and intellectual property continue to be used as a tawdry excuse to delay drugs" (Mills/Singh, Toronto Star, 8/15).
- Winnipeg Free Press: The fact that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not attending the AIDS conference "brings Canada into further disrepute as a fighter in the war against AIDS," a Winnipeg Free Press editorial says. In addition, "not a single pill" has been provided to developing countries under a Canadian law allowing drug makers to manufacture and export less-expensive, generic versions of patented drugs -- including antiretrovirals -- to developing countries, according to the editorial. "Before the AIDS conference ends later this week, it would be useful to see Mr. Harper attend and explain, not just why he wasn't there to open it, but why Canada has failed to step up to this challenge," the editorial says (Winnipeg Free Press, 8/15).
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer: The U.S. government has been the largest donor in the fight against HIV/AIDS and "should continue to increase its contributions," a Post-Intelligencer editorial says. The "Bush administration and Congress also should heed" messages from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation "about results," the Post-Intelligencer says (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 8/14).
- Barrie Craven and Gordon Stewart, Bangkok Post: The "best preventative not just for AIDS but for all diseases" is "better nourished people in clean environments," Craven of the Newcastle Business School at the University of Northumbria and Stewart of the University of Glasgow write in a Post opinion piece. "Money for drugs can only make a dent in the pandemic," the authors write, concluding, "With economic freedoms such as open markets, property rights and enforceable contracts, the poor could start saving themselves" (Craven/Stewart, Bangkok Post, 8/15).
- Margaret Wente, Globe and Mail: "A little frank talk might help" in the fight against HIV/AIDS, columnist Wente writes in a Globe and Mail opinion column. According to Wente, issues that need to be addressed to tackle the pandemic include the rising incidence of HIV among men who have sex with men; the lack of discussion around "personal responsibility and behavior" as contributing factors to HIV transmission; current Canadian immigration policies; the lack of commitment from the black community to address HIV/AIDS; and the promotion of "prevention and harm-reduction methods that are not evidence-based and probably don't work" (Wente, Globe and Mail, 8/15).
Long Island Newsday: Although "western nations are doing far better in preventing" HIV and "extending" the lives of HIV-positive people, "health policy makers must continue to advocate educating young adults and others at risk on how to avoid" sexually transmitted infections, a Newsday editorial says. "That's the first and best line of defense," the editorial concludes (Long Island Newsday, 8/15).
- Newark Star-Ledger: New Jersey is the "only state that refuses to allow either the nonprescription sale of syringes or needle-exchange programs," a Star-Ledger editorial says. "If poor nations are able to push culture and politics aside to achieve even small successes against major odds, ... then New Jersey, one of the wealthiest states in the wealthiest of nations, should be able to confront its drug-related AIDS problem," the editorial says (Newark Star-Ledger, 8/15).
- James Pinkerton, Long Island Newsday: Although "[p]ublic health experts are correct when they note the sex trade is a major vector" for HIV transmission, the "stigmatization" of commercial sex work also is a "matter of consensus," columnist Pinkerton writes in a Newsday opinion piece. HIV/AIDS advocates "wish to see AIDS not just as a scientific" and "medical issue but rather as a social issue -- a chance to turn tragedy into an opportunity to re-engineer societies around the world," Pinkerton writes, adding, "The weight of world opinion is against them, to be sure, but here in Toronto they keep trying" (Pinkerton, Long Island Newsday, 8/15).
- National Post: Gates Foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates at the AIDS conference reminded the international community that "[w]e need to put the power to prevent AIDS in the hands of women," a Post editorial says. "[A]ll the public awareness campaigns in the world will not prevent a woman from being raped," and rape will continue to be a problem until governments in developing countries "get serious about cracking down on offenders," the editorial says, adding, "in some cases, that will only happen once international pressure compels them" (National Post, 8/15).