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News and Views
What "To Do" About AIDS
Public Policy Priorities for Combating a Preventable Epidemic

By Catherine Hanssens

February 12, 2001

Although a preventable epidemic, AIDS rages more powerfully than ever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed that HIV infection rates remain high, deaths continue, and the mirror epidemic of fear and ignorance is as healthy in some ways as it was more than a decade ago.

There are basic steps needed right now that could change this epidemic's course. Most of these do not require drastically increased funding, although that is needed as well. Rather, what is most needed is that we spend our money more wisely -- in sensible, science-based directions -- to stop new infections, save more lives, and avert suffering.

If the president and other elected officials are serious about stopping HIV, these 15 recommendations -- a "To Do" list, as it were -- should be prominent on their desks.

As the IOM aptly pointed out, there is no time to lose: "It is time for the nation to adopt a coordinated set of strategies to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. We must learn from our past successes, as well as from our failures, in prevention and we must focus prevention efforts on those individuals and communities who are increasingly affected by the epidemic."

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