HIV/AIDS Funding ‘Must Continue’ But Other Diseases Should Not Be Neglected, Editorial Says
The fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic "is far from won," with about 33 million people living with HIV worldwide and new cases each year that are "outpac[ing] the world's ability to provide additional treatment," a Columbus Dispatch editorial says. It adds that international health experts "ought to debate whether the cause of HIV and AIDS is getting the appropriate level of funding and attention, especially in relation to other health threats." A May 2008 British Medical Journal column by researcher Roger England "makes several compelling points" and "argues that AIDS has become a behemoth of a cause that soaks up a disproportionate amount of money and attention to the detriment of efforts to combat other illnesses," the editorial says, adding that England also argues that "as long as the international community continues to support HIV programs on such massive scale in those hardest-hit countries, those countries have no incentive to help their own people."
However, "[u]ntil governments are functional enough to provide long-term care to their populations, outside support will be needed," the editorial says. It adds that HIV/AIDS "causes social upheaval," and "[e]ven with drugs available, the number of [AIDS] orphans in sub-Saharan Africa ... is expected to exceed 25 million by 2010. Children left behind risk starvation and being forced into dangerous child labor or the sex trade." The editorial concludes that funding for HIV/AIDS "must continue. But the level should be re-examined regularly to ensure that other devastating diseases are not getting short shrift simply because they lack the public relations firepower of AIDS" (Columbus Dispatch, 12/15).