Eliminating Funds for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Research, Shifting Funds to Treatment ‘Dangerous Sentiment,’ Opinion Piece Says
The call to eliminate all funding for HIV/AIDS vaccine research and prevention programs and "shifting" those funds to the expansion of HIV/AIDS treatment is a "dangerous sentiment" that is "sweeping over the AIDS establishment," Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes in an International Herald Tribune opinion piece.
There is "genuine joy" among HIV/AIDS advocates that millions of HIV-positive people are living longer because of antiretroviral treatment, and Congress is to be "congratulated" for the passage of a bill to reauthorize the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through 2013, Garrett writes. However, she adds that it is "troubling" that some HIV/AIDS advocates "fail to see AIDS treatment for what it is: A stop-gap measure to tide humanity over until we can collectively reach what ought to be our real goal -- stopping HIV's spread entirely." Garrett notes that on an "individual basis, living with AIDS is a proper goal; on a population basis, it is catastrophic."
If the current HIV/AIDS treatment model is "viewed as an interim step ... its funding and expansion make sense not only morally, but also as a practical matter of economics and foreign policy," Garrett writes, adding, "[B]ut only if a massive commitment to finding searches for both a vaccine and cure for HIV are sustained for years to come." The recent news concerning HIV/AIDS vaccine trials is "demoralizing," but the "multibillion-dollar HIV research enterprise" that focuses on improving treatment options "will inexorably increase," Garrett writes. HIV/AIDS "ought to be eliminated entirely from the pantheon of threats to humanity," but that requires a "dose of realism," Garrett adds (Garrett, International Herald Tribune, 7/31).