UN Lowers AIDS Estimate; New Look at Funds
November 26, 2007
New UN data on global HIV infections should be used in to guide future funding decisions, several experts said recently. More accurate methodology led the agency to conclude that HIV prevalence has been falling for almost a decade, and that HIV has not jumped from high-risk groups to the general population in China and India, among other findings.
Growing global data suggest HIV/AIDS affects primarily sex workers and their clients, intravenous drug users, men who have sex with men and "people who participate in risky sexual networks," said Daniel Halperin, an AIDS specialist at the Harvard School of Public Health. In Africa, 20-40 percent of adults have several sexual partners at approximately the same time, he said.
Since these networks are rare in China and India, controlling AIDS "is really about doing effective HIV prevention with high-risk groups," Halperin said. Experts suggest that funding for abstinence programs targeting youths could be cut and spent in a more focused way on high-risk groups, such as sex workers, and promoting sex partner fidelity, especially in Africa.
"Abstinence programs for youth in India are not a good use of money," said Halperin. "The idea that you have to convince every Indian couple to use a condom isn't what needs to be done." "It would be really a mistake to say we don't need to fund AIDS anymore, that it's not a problem," he said. "But in countries that have a low prevalence and no strong indication the problem is getting worse, spending shouldn't be disproportionate for one problem."
11.21.2007; Laurie Goering
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.