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New Wave of HIV May Lurk Around the Corner

April 20, 2006

Emerging social challenges could affect the spread of HIV and the world's ability to control epidemics, potentially endangering the progress already made, said researchers from Argentina, Australia, South Africa and the United States in an editorial in the April issue of AIDS.

"There has been a general lack of attention to social science and large-scale issues of any kind in the conversation around AIDS," said Samuel R. Friedman, director of the Social Theory Core and the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research at the US-based National Development and Research Institutes and an author of the paper. "We are not really looking ahead at what may be coming down the road at us."

The researchers outlined six major themes that are globally problematic: "big events" such as wars, political transitions, ecological or economic disruptions; large-scale HIV epidemics and their social consequences; government policies that defy or ignore existing evidence; distinctive challenges faced by stable societies without generalized epidemics; emerging biomedical changes; and the potential failure of HIV treatments due to the virus' evolution.

To answer the questions these themes provoke, "the full armamentarium of social science and social epidemiological research methods will be needed," the editorial stated.

The dearth of large-scale research has weakened both the individual and societal response to HIV/AIDS, said the authors. When AIDS first appeared, "We did not know enough to be able to have the conversation in intelligent terms," said Friedman. "But today we certainly know enough to start such a conversation."

The editorial calls on funding agencies, nongovernmental and community organizations, individual researchers and students, and the general public to examine the specific social risk factors driving HIV transmission.

The editorial, "Emerging Future Issues in HIV/AIDS Social Research," was published in AIDS (2006;20(7):959-966).

Back to other news for April 20, 2006

Adapted from:
Inter Press Service
04.18.2006; Lisa Söderlindh

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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