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Fight Against HIV/AIDS Should Focus On Prevention, Testing

Armen Hareyan's picture

The fight against HIV/AIDS is "far from over," and the "only way to reverse the spread of" the virus is to "focus on prevention," Richard Holbrooke, president of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. It is "heartening" that more than two million people living with HIV have access to antiretroviral drugs, Holbrooke writes, adding that "real progress must be measured by the only criterion that ultimately matters: Is the number of people who are HIV-positive declining? The answer is a resounding no."

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According to Holbrooke, HIV prevention methods need "immediate emphasis and far, far more resources." He adds that a "viable prevention strategy" should include HIV education and counseling, access to no-cost condoms, efforts to empower women, increased male circumcision efforts and abstinence programs.

However, "none of this will work without widespread testing," Holbrooke writes, adding that "[i]n no other medical epidemic in history has detection been such a low priority." Holbrooke writes that during the 19th annual World AIDS Day -- Dec. 1 -- the international health community should admit that it is "still losing" the fight against HIV/AIDS and "[a]dvocate strategies that emphasize prevention and detection, based on the successful 'opt-out' testing system." He concludes, "If current policies are not changed, we will face uncontrollable growth in the costs of" treating a preventable disease (Holbrooke, Washington Post, 10/9).