Friday, December 02, 2005

3 x 5: Failure and politics

Texas AIDS Network's newest, youngest, and bestest (well, today anyway) Board member, Christina Escamilla, sent me a link to NBC's Robert Bazell's report for World AIDS Day. (Thanks, Chris!) Bazell's report outlines the essential history of the epidemic, including mind-numbing statistics, promises to provide funding, failure to follow through with funding, and, then, more mind-numbing statistics. That includes the "3 x 5" failure of the World Health Organization's plan to get 3 million poor AIDS patients in third world countries into treatment by the end of 2005. Kudos to Bazell for highlighting the failure.

What is interesting (to me) in his report is the fact that he also points to failures to deal with the epidemic in the US and his finger-pointing in the matter of prevention:

Some well known prevention strategies could lower that number—public education, condom use, clean needles and syringes and more widespread testing for infection with the AIDS virus. An old fashioned public health method where people who are infected are identified and their sexual partners are contacted anonymously could also lower the infection rate. But as New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden and his colleagues write in the current New England Journal of Medicine “religious and political groups oppose the use of effective prevention measures” while “some advocacy groups oppose” contact tracing and widespread testing.

Bazell mentions several issues that we have talked about on this blog: education, condoms, clean needles and syringes. I expect we'll keep talking about these things as long as there are barriers to their effective use in HIV prevention.

We have also talked a bit about HIV testing issues, but we've said almost nothing about partner notification issues. Since the Network occasionally functions as an advocacy group (we also do education and research), it almost feels like Bazell has issued a challenge to us to rethink these issues and look more closely at how we talk about them.

So let's do some of that thinking and looking and talking in the next few days. It's worth it, I'd say, because there's one thing that Bazell said that really has to change:

World AIDS Day seems destined to be a time when we call attention to our failures in the face of the greatest public health crisis ever.

No comments: