Global HIV Prevention Working Group Releases Report on Integrating Prevention Into Treatment Strategies
June 14, 2004
With increased access to antiretroviral treatment in developing countries throughout the world, prevention could be "neglected," resulting in "even more" new HIV cases, according to a report released on Thursday by the Global HIV Prevention Working Group, the New York Times reports. According to the report, widespread access to HIV/AIDS treatment could have the "unintended consequence" of giving people a "false sense of security" that the epidemic is over, according to the Times (Altman, New York Times, 6/11). The report, titled "HIV Prevention in the Era of Expanded Treatment Access," is the first major report to examine global HIV prevention during a period of increasing treatment access, according to a working group release. The working group, which was convened in 2002 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Kaiser Family Foundation, is comprised of nearly 50 experts in public health; clinical care; biomedical, behavioral and social research; and people affected by HIV/AIDS. The report says there is an "unprecedented opportunity to forge a comprehensive response to the global AIDS epidemic by integrating HIV prevention interventions into expanding treatment programs," according to the release (Global HIV Prevention Working Group release, 6/10).
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Gayle said, "Because HIV is no longer an automatic death sentence, we must anticipate behavioral shifts and explain the benefits and limits of current therapies." Dr. Paulo Teixeira, former director of the World Health Organization HIV/AIDS program, said, "There was a long period where prevention and treatment were considered as opposite strategies" and "it was necessary to choose between them." However, now the two approaches "must be done in concert," he added, according to the Times (New York Times, 6/11). Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said, "The challenge now is to make scaling up our number-one priority in the fight against HIV and to scale up prevention and treatment in tandem" (Global HIV Prevention Working Group release, 6/10). UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said that "if you do only treatment, you'll have more infections because the perception is the problem is fixed." Gayle added, "Treatment (alone) ... isn't a solution to the epidemic" (Wall Street Journal, 6/11). She said that combining treatment and prevention strategies is "the best chance the world has had to build a comprehensive response to the global epidemic," adding, "More widespread access to treatment is likely to bring millions of people into health care settings, providing new opportunities for health care workers to deliver and reinforce HIV prevention messages" (Ross, AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 6/11).
The report, as well as past reports from the Global HIV Prevention Working Group, are available online.
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.