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HIV: Reaching Global Goals? December 1, 2011

Posted by acroanmph in Global Health, Public Health.
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World AIDS Day, HIV goalsThirty years of an infectious pandemic, drug research, public health education, and counseling have brought us to the point where we boldly announce the goal of an HIV-free generation in the next three years. This may seem attainable as HIV is a preventable disease. Personal behavior changes will determine the rate of infection. Assuming we will curb behaviors of all people who engage in IV drug use and unprotected sex, especially at a time when economies are struggling, is delusional.

Greece’s troubled economy has seen new infections rise by 52% in 2011, and that rate is expected to increase to 60% by the end of the year. (The US rate of increase is about 7%.) The rate of injected drug use is increasing because people can no longer afford other methods, and there have been heavy cuts to prevention in the form of free needles. The World Health Organization recommends 200 per year per user and Greece is handing out only three. Mobile testing units which frequently hit areas of high prostitution and drug use have ceased, in lieu of free-standing facilities in “posh neighborhoods,” out of reach of those who need them most. Drug therapy is becoming more unattainable, and according to Reuters and the National School of Public Health,

Antiretroviral drugs cost Greece at least 1,000 euros per patient a month. For the state to pay for all those people would cost just over 130 million euros a year. According to Christianna Rizopoulos, who collects data at the Hellenic Center’s HIV office, there is talk among health professionals that the government plans to cut its contribution for drugs to 600 euros per treatment per month, so patients would have to foot almost half the bill.

And this at a time when unemployment is up, hovering around 20%.

Outlooks for the US economy project at least a decade, maybe two, for recovery. Currently, there are over 250,000 Americans unknowingly carrying the virus. Fear of stigma prevents many from being tested, even though access to care is fairly good. Hillary Clinton’s hope of zero new infections by combining prevention techniques may work on paper, but realistically it’s a pipe dream until economies stabilize.

The government is not going to stop new infections. YOU are. David Scondras, CEO and Founder of Search For A Cure/HIV Treatment Advocacy, explains how you can protect yourself:

For confidential testing, find a site near you by entering your zip code. Pass it on.

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