Editorials, Opinion Pieces Respond to World AIDS Day
Several newspapers have published editorials and opinion pieces in response to World AIDS Day. Summaries appear below.
Akron Beacon Journal: "Spending on HIV/AIDS is generating an intense international debate about priorities in global public health, especially about balance in the allocation of scarce funds for health care," an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says, adding that "public health experts are concerned" that HIV/AIDS spending is "disproportionate" and is "diverting resources from other critical health issues and diseases, such as pneumonia." The editorial concludes that concern about uneven spending on HIV/AIDS is "valid" but that the "high priority" for the global health community should be to "forge a balance that does not turn global health funding decisions into a zero-sum game" (Akron Beacon Journal, 12/3).
Dallas Morning News: By the end of World AIDS Day, 1,000 new pediatric HIV cases will have occurred, primarily through mother-to-child transmission, a Morning News editorial says. The "good news" is that research has shown that if women begin antiretroviral treatments early in their pregnancies, their infants have a 98% chance of being born HIV-negative, which is an "astonishing achievement," the editorial says. "The bad news? Almost nine out of 10 HIV-positive children live in sub-Saharan Africa, where intense poverty and political unrest prevent these treatments from reaching pregnant women," according to the editorial. In addition, AIDS-related deaths among parents in the region have left about 12 million "ancillary child victims of AIDS who are uninfected," the editorial says. Despite the current economic crisis occurring in the West, the world must not "let our own financial troubles distract us from our moral obligation to share what we can from our bounty to help these young victims," the editorial says, concluding, "For millions of helpless African children, every day is AIDS day" (Dallas Morning News, 12/1).
The Herald: The editorial echoes calls made by the country's top leadership for the government and private sector to enter into partnerships to revive the health care system, which would have a significant effect on the fight against HIV/AIDS. According to the editorial, it is "imperative" to improve Zimbabwe's health delivery systems to scale up HIV/AIDS care, treatment and support programs. The editorial adds that because Zimbabwe's health system has "been hit by inflation, economic problems, and illegal sanctions," the "private sector and other organizations should take part to improve our health delivery system." The editorial concludes that the "devastating effect that AIDS is having on young people should be one of the biggest concerns to those involved in fighting the epidemic" (The Herald, 12/3).
Madison Capital Times: Although President-elect Barack Obama has "always spoken well and wisely about the challenges posed by the HIV/AIDS crisis and about the opportunity the United States has to address them," such as when he spoke at the 2006 Global Summit on AIDS at California's Saddleback Church, Obama "is no longer a senator speaking at a church," a Capital Times editorial says. The editorial adds that as president-elect Obama now "has the power to move beyond words to deeds." According to the editorial, the "new president, and the nation he leads, ought never forget" that Obama "was right" when he said addressing the global challenges of HIV/AIDS will require "an all hands on deck effort" (Madison Capital Times, 12/1).
South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Although there has been "significant progress across the world in the fight against HIV/AIDS," the "success, unfortunately, has led some international officials to prematurely declare 'mission accomplished' and push for a cut in funding needed to combat the disease," a Sun-Sentinel editorial says. It adds that until HIV/AIDS cases worldwide "drop sharply, there's no sense in slowing down the anti-AIDS campaign. The world has made progress, yes. That's reason to feel confident, but not overconfident. The war against this deadly scourge is far from over. Fighting the disease must remain a priority" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 12/4).
- Anthony Fauci, CNN.com: Since the first World AIDS Day in 1988, "much has changed," including "unprecedented research" that led to the development of antiretrovirals and "[s]cientifically proven prevention approaches," Fauci -- director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases -- writes in a CNN.com opinion piece. He adds that the "global community must sustain our commitment to investing resources for medicines, clinics, as well as training and salaries for doctors, nurses and community health care workers to provide care for HIV/AIDS and other diseases in the settings where they occur." He adds, "On this World AIDS Day, we should be proud of the many scientific advances that have been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS. But it is hardly a time for self-congratulation." According to Fauci, "[W]e must understand that our work is just beginning. Developing HIV interventions and delivering them to the people who need them will require scientific and public health vision and dedication from all sectors of society, in good times and bad" (Fauci, CNN.com, 12/1).
- Donald Messer, Denver Post: The "question must be asked: Is it inevitable fate or the will of God that women everywhere should suffer the greatest stigmatization and discrimination because of HIV and AIDS?" Donald Messer -- executive director of the Center for the Church and Global AIDS -- writes in a Post opinion piece. He adds, "Unless gender inequality is addressed, government efforts to curb the AIDS pandemic ... will be in vain. A major reversal of male attitudes and actions is imperative." Practices among some men -- such as having "multiple partners" and "engaging commercial sex workers" -- must be confronted, Messer adds. He continues that "we men should lend our voices of advocacy to support the efforts of women to protect themselves against HIV and AIDS. This must be reflected in our personal, marital, and societal roles and relationships." Messer concludes, "Unless we hear and heed the voices of women, all efforts to curb the HIV and AIDS pandemic will fail -- no matter how much antiretroviral medicine is distributed or how many World AIDS Days are observed" (Messer, Denver Post, 12/1).
- Thompson Ayodele, Wall Street Journal: Western advocates who "argue that poor countries should be permitted to break pharmaceutical patents to produce cheap knock-off versions" of antiretroviral drugs "are not just wrong, their policy is flat-out dangerous," Ayodele, executive director of the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis, writes in a Journal opinion piece. "The real causes of restricted access to AIDS drugs are Africa's derelict transportation systems, widespread corruption and poor utility infrastructure," he writes. It is "important" on World AIDS Day "to look at how the West can better assist the developing world in its battle against this deadly disease," Ayodele writes. "But we cannot forget that local governments need to play their part as well." He concludes, "Instead of meddling with patent protections, without which there would be no drug innovation, they need to clean up their policies" (Ayodele, Wall Street Journal, 11/30).