Commentary & Opinion
HIV Prevention, Treatment Coordinated With Health Care System Improvements Could Stem Epidemic, Opinion Piece Says
November 23, 2005
Public health experts "believe that we can turn a corner" in the fight against HIV/AIDS and other epidemics if "we coordinate efforts ... to strengthen the health care systems that can holistically address prevention and treatment," Jim Yong Kim, outgoing director of WHO's HIV/AIDS Department, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece (Kim, Washington Post, 11/23). According to a report released on Monday by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, titled "AIDS Epidemic Update: December 2005," the total number of HIV-positive people worldwide has reached its highest level ever, increasing from 39.4 million in 2004 to 40.3 million currently. Nearly five million new HIV cases occurred in 2005 and about 3.1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses this year. However, some countries that have invested heavily in prevention programs -- including Kenya, Zimbabwe and some Caribbean countries -- have lowered their HIV prevalence rates, while improved access to HIV treatment in middle- and low-income countries led to an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 avoided deaths in 2005, according to the report (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/22). In order to build on these prevention and treatment successes, "a new approach is required," Kim says, adding, "The approach that excites public health advocates, and that seems increasingly achievable, is building and strengthening health care systems in the developing world so they can deliver both HIV treatment and prevention, including voluntary counseling and testing." Generating "basic health care in poor countries is challenging but far from impossible"; combining prevention, treatment and health care system improvement efforts can "help not only slow HIV/AIDS, but also make long-needed breakthroughs in reducing the impact of other diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, that enslave the developing world" (Washington Post, 11/23).
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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.