Commentary & Opinion
AIDS Epidemic Varies Between Regions, Cultures; Requires Different, Often "Entirely Novel" Approaches, Lancet Editorial Says
July 2, 2004
The global AIDS epidemic is not just one but multiple epidemics, each with a "different dynamic and course" that varies between communities, cultures, governments and economic systems, a Lancet editorial says. These variations may be "subtle" but significant enough to require a "different, and sometimes entirely novel, approach," the editorial says. Because of these cultural and situational differences, it is important to "know as much as possible about each epidemic, tracking it in each community, and monitoring the effectiveness of interventions," the Lancet says. The differences between populations can affect all aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in a community, including how the disease is contracted and spread, according to the editorial. In Africa, HIV/AIDS "runs rampant" through heterosexual populations in many sub-Saharan nations, while regions in the north remain "relatively unscathed," the editorial says. In Europe, HIV is spread primarily though high-risk groups such as men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers and injection drug users, according to the Lancet. Although the epidemic in Asia has primarily affected high risk groups, it is not yet known whether some Asian countries will see "massive epidemics" like those in sub-Saharan Africa, the editorial says. Due to the fact that each epidemic is "different and evolving," the fight against HIV/AIDS will ultimately be "lost or won" by people and workers within communities, the editorial says, concluding that such workers should be given the training and resources to develop methods best suited to their circumstances (Lancet, 6/3).
The July 3 issue of the Lancet is a special feature focusing on HIV/AIDS in advance of the XV International AIDS Conference that will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, July 11-16. The issue includes commentary on the epidemic and articles on treatment, research, and the connection between health and human rights. The complete issue can be viewed online (Lancet, 6/3).
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.