Editorials, Opinion Pieces, Letter Respond to UNAIDS, WHO Report on Global HIV/AIDS Estimates
Several newspapers recently published editorials, opinion pieces and letters to the editor in response to UNAIDS and the World Health Organization's annual report on HIV/AIDS, which was released last week. The organizations in the report lowered their estimates of how many people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. According to the report, about 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, compared with an estimate of nearly 40 million in 2006. The U.N. bodies said that better methods of data collection and increased data availability from countries show that HIV/AIDS is not quite as widespread as previously thought (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/21).
Economist: Although the decrease in the estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS "should be cause for rejoicing," the "fall is not a real fall," but a "change in the way the size of the epidemic is estimated," an Economist editorial says. The editorial adds that the "best news of all" is that the "epidemic has peaked," meaning that the "goal of treatment for all who need it will be easier and cheaper to achieve" (Economist, 11/22).
New York Times: The "AIDS epidemic remains one of the world's greatest scourges," despite the "revised estimates," a Times editorial says. The editorial adds that although there are "glimmers of hope that the epidemic is beginning to wane," the "revised numbers cannot be used as an excuse to relax the campaign against AIDS" (New York Times, 11/23).
Los Angeles Times: Although the report indicates that HIV/AIDS is not "as prevalent as previously thought," that is "no reason to be complacent," a Times editorial says. "Even using the lowered estimate, AIDS is one of mankind's deadliest afflictions," the Times says. Even if the United Nations "had been intentionally overstating the problem -- which is unlikely -- the PR effort didn't work," the editorial says, adding, "The world still isn't giving enough money" (Los Angeles Times, 11/27).
- Helen Epstein, Mail & Guardian: The "key to fighting AIDS lies" in something "best described as a sense of solidarity, compassion and mutual aid that is impossible to quantify or measure," Epstein -- author of "The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West and the Fight Against AIDS" -- writes in a Mail & Guardian opinion piece in response to the new data. Because "sexuality is shaped by society and because sex itself involves more than one person, behavior change is a collective act, not one of individuals acting alone," Epstein writes, adding, "That's the reason why social mobilization is so important. And that's also why HIV prevention is so difficult. But sometimes it works" (Epstein, Mail & Guardian, 11/26).
- Donald McNeil, New York Times: The new estimates "mean the vision" that HIV/AIDS will be "viewed as a chronic problem" is "now possible" on a global scale, Times reporter McNeil writes in an opinion piece. It also is possible that in the "very distant future," it might be "actually affordable" for the global health community to contain the pandemic, McNeil adds (McNeil, New York Times, 11/25).
- Margaret Wente, Toronto's Globe and Mail: Researchers at UNAIDS and WHO were "finally forced to admit that their numbers had been wildly overstated," Wente, a columnist for the Globe and Mail, writes in an opinion piece. She concludes that "fudging the facts doesn't help anyone -- least of all the victims of this tragic, dreadful plague" (Wente, Globe and Mail, 11/24).
Letter to the Editor
- Adrienne Germain, New York Times: The revised data is "pointless" because the "pandemic and number of new infections are still horrific," Germain, president of the International Women's Health Coalition, writes in a Times letter to the editor. Germain adds that the global health community "must make better progress on prevention and treatment for all" (Germain, New York Times, 11/27).
- Germain, Washington Post: The report "must not detract from the world's effort to stem the HIV/AIDS pandemic," Germain writes in a Post letter to the editor, adding that the global health community "must ensure access to prevention and treatment for all" (Germain, Washington Post, 11/23).