HIV Prevention Efforts Offer Ultimate Hope For Curbing Pandemic

Armen Hareyan's picture

Although HIV/AIDS treatment and care programs should be expandedworldwide, it is "only by preventing new infections" that the world can"ultimately hope to turn back this devastating disease," DanielHalperin, senior research scientist at the Center for Population and Development Studies at Harvard University's School of Public Health, writes in a Washington Post opinion piece in response to a recent Post opinion piece by Richard Holbrooke, president of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.


Holbrooke was "correct to emphasize the importance of HIV testing,especially for providing the main gateway into treatment," Halperinwrites, adding, "There is, however, little evidence that knowing one'sHIV status fundamentally alters behavior." According to Halperin,although Holbrooke also "listed a number of other key elements of aviable prevention strategy" -- including education, counseling, no-costcondoms, empowerment of women, increased male circumcision andabstinence -- he "neglected to mention the central role that multiplesexual partnerships play in infection rates."

"Broadinterventions are needed to address" the factor of multiple sexpartners, Halperin writes. He adds that although approaches such astesting, condom use and abstinence are "important," no "magic bulletexists" to prevent HIV, Halperin writes. According to Halperin,"rigorous evidence" suggests that there needs to be a "vigorousexpansion" of behavior-change programs in Africa to encourage partnerreduction and increased access to safe male circumcision on thecontinent.

It also would be helpful to expand HIV testing programs, "ifnot primarily for prevention purposes, then at least to help facilitatethe care and treatment programs that are also vital to mitigating" theHIV/AIDS pandemic, Halperin concludes (Halperin, Washington Post, 10/22).

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