Advocates Should Focus on Long-Term Strategy To Fight HIV/AIDS, Global Fund Director Feachem Says
HIV/AIDS advocates should focus on developing a long-term strategy for the fight against the pandemic, Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Executive Director Richard Feachem said on Wednesday during a satellite meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Reuters Health reports. "As we get the fire engine to the scene and begin to put out the blaze, which I think is what is happening, our attention now must begin to focus on the long term," Feachem said. He added that during the past five years, countries have become more proactive in their approaches to tackling HIV/AIDS and, as a result, have accomplished "some early successes." According to Feachem, 1.5 million people worldwide have access to antiretroviral therapy, and the number is "doubling every year." However, for every one person with access to treatment, 10 new HIV transmissions occur, Feachem said, adding that the result is a "receding horizon" that the world needs to address. In addition, rising costs associated with expanded drug treatment programs pose a serious challenge as HIV-positive people remain on therapy longer and likely require more expensive second- and third-line drugs because of drug resistance, according to Reuters Health. "Unless we really focus on those long-term issues and get a high measure of agreement, we are not going to make the right decisions today and tomorrow," Feachem said. He also noted that decisions would have to be made in the near future about the role of vaginal microbicides -- gels, films and sponges that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other infections -- male circumcision and vaccines in the fight against HIV/AIDS worldwide (Hirschler, Reuters Health, 1/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.