Commentary & Opinion
Despite Increased Global Attention to HIV/AIDS Pandemic, More Infections, Deaths Occur, NEJM Perspective Piece Says
July 12, 2004
Although "funding, global attention and political will" aimed at the HIV/AIDS pandemic have increased, "more infections and more deaths continue to occur," and participants in the XV International AIDS Conference have the "daunting task" of examining how to reverse these trends, Dr. Robert Steinbrook, a New England Journal of Medicine editor, writes in a perspective piece published in the July 8 issue. Steinbrook says that there are "only two" approaches to combating the pandemic: preventing new HIV cases and providing antiretroviral drug treatment to HIV-positive people. He adds that to fight the disease effectively, the "public, the medical community and government officials all need better information about AIDS." In addition, many people living with HIV are unaware of their statuses and other HIV-positive people may not seek care because of stigma or discrimination, according to Steinbrook. Although the World Health Organization has launched its "ambitious" 3 by 5 Initiative to treat three million HIV-positive people with antiretrovirals by 2005, the program's "succe[ss] ... is by no means assured," Steinbrook says. There is a "large gap" between the number of people in developing countries who need antiretroviral treatment -- between four and eight million -- and the number receiving treatment -- about 400,000 at the end of 2003, Steinbrook says, adding that the treatment-coverage rates are "dismal." Steinbrook concludes that although "global control is not in sight," the International AIDS Conference will "bring new energy, attention and perhaps resources to the battle against the pandemic" (Steinbrook, New England Journal of Medicine, 7/8).
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.