Effective HIV Prevention Programs Should Be Implemented More Widely in Africa, Letter to Editor Says
Although a recent Washington Post article "rightly pointed out that HIV continues to spread rapidly throughout much of Africa," it "would be a mistake to conclude that prevention programs don't work," David Serwadda and Salim Abdool Karim, both of the Global HIV Prevention Working Group, write in a Post letter to the editor. "Many HIV prevention interventions have been proved effective through rigorous scientific trials," the authors write. They add that no "single intervention is a magic bullet -- including programs to promote sexual monogamy and adult male circumcision -- but when deployed in combination, prevention efforts can have a huge impact."
However, "prevention programs have not been implemented on a sufficient scale in Africa -- meaning they do not reach enough people, with enough intensity, to curb the epidemic," Abdool Karim and Serwadda write. According to the authors, a "small fraction of Africans receive basic AIDS education or have access to condoms." They add that "just one in 10" HIV-positive women has access to the drugs that can prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. "In addition, far too little has been done to address underlying factors that increase HIV risk -- such as poverty, gender inequalities and a lack of reproductive health care," the authors write. They conclude that a recent report from the working group found that "dramatically expanded prevention efforts could avert half of the 60 million infections projected to occur globally by 2015" (Serwadda/Abdool Karim, Washington Post, 6/27).