March 15, 2012
"There is a lot of optimism now in the community of public health officials and advocates who work on AIDS. ... But, even as we know more, there are still disputes about how best to move forward on both prevention and treatment," commentator Richard Socarides, a former White House adviser under President Bill Clinton, writes in the New Yorker's "News Desk" blog. "Such is the nature of AIDS, especially as it involves an attempt to understand the complexity of human behavior as it relates to sex," he adds.
Socarides briefly reviews the new book "Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the AIDS Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It," by Washington Post journalist Craig Timberg and CDC epidemiologist Daniel Halperin, pointing out that the book advocates for a broader discussion of sexual practices and behavior change to prevent new HIV infections. However, "there is particular excitement now around 'treatment as prevention'" among global health officials and the strategy is an integral part of the Obama administration's plan for an "AIDS-free generation," Socarides writes. "The difficulty arises with Timberg's argument that overly ambitious treatment efforts could 'represent only the latest misjudgments by powerful donor nations such as the United States,'" he says, concluding, "Having undertaken this ambitious goal as a nation, we need to recommit ourselves, both scientifically and financially, to end the epidemic" (3/14).
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