Tuesday, November 22, 2005
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The difficulty of doing good on HIV/AIDS
Despite decreases in the rate of infection in certain countries, the overall number of people living with HIV has continued to increase in all regions of the world except the Caribbean. There were an additional five million new infections in 2005. The number of people living with HIV globally has reached its highest level with an estimated 40.3 million people, up from an estimated 37.5 million in 2003. More than three million people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2005; of these, more than 500000 were children.David Greising has a front-pager in the Chicago Tribune about the efforts of Abbott Laboratories to help Tanzania cope with the AIDS epidemic. The story highlights the fact that this is not simply about access to cheap medicines:
For five years now, Abbott has worked with Tanzania's government to alleviate the impact of AIDS. The experience has taught the company that the biggest obstacles are less obvious, and less readily overcome, than getting drugs to the villages.posted by Dan on 11.22.05 at 10:12 AM
Anyone who has spent time in a third world country could have told you how absurd it was to try to "solve" the AIDs crisis in poor countries with First World solutions. It always calls to mind the Professor on Gilligan's Island, pedalling away on a bamboo bike to power a bamboo irrigation system or computer (yeah, right). Shame on Jeffrey Sachs and all the other do-gooders who set themselves up for failure on this score. The bad news is that none of the short-term objectives set out for "managing" AIDs are likely to be met, and donors will start to question the strategies set out just a few years ago. Then, as now, prevention is a realistic goal; treatment for the masses is not. We've been diverting manpower and money from the attainable in pursuit of a chimera.
The good news is that, while AIDs isn't even close to being dealt with on a global scale, some of that money may actually make peoples' lives better on the ground anyway. Better health care (and distribution systems), cleaner water, hopefully decent homes and schools for AIDs orphans are all within the grasp of aid groups and governments. I think it's ridiculous that infrastructure improvements like these need to be related to AIDs to get off the ground, but whatever...so long as they happen.posted by: Kelli on 11.22.05 at 10:12 AM [permalink]
Somewhat oddly, the word "condom" doesn't appear above. Hmm, check the link:
Others believe Abbott and the Tanzania government should focus more on prevention--the distribution of condoms and counseling to avoid the disease. Abbott pays to train counselors, but not for condoms, an approach that aligns with the controversial stance of President Bush's AIDS fighting program.posted by: rilkefan on 11.22.05 at 10:12 AM [permalink]
That's because the CIA used the hurricane to poison the oil. With Jews. That's how they melted the glaciers.posted by: P. Froward on 11.22.05 at 10:12 AM [permalink]
It is interesting that Eastern Europe is among the regions with the sharpest increase in infections. Don't these countries have good infrastructure, at least good enough so that logistics will not be a problem for donors? And aren't the people in these countries well educated? Causes of failure against AIDS are probably different in this part of the world than in Africa.posted by: Kerim Can on 11.22.05 at 10:12 AM [permalink]
The notion that people in the developed world shouldn't be treated is absurd. First of all, treating the infected helps prevention greatly. Reducing the viral load greatly diminished the chances of new infections. Secondly, if you look at countries like Botswana, 1/3 of the working age population would die in like 5 years if there was not a treatment program. The productive capacity of that country would collapse, making things all that more difficult to deal with. While Botswana is an exception in many ways, no one believed their program would be successful when they first proposed it. Now that it is, everyone is saying that it can't be successful anywhere else. I'm reminded of the story of those standing around saying it can't be done being passed by someone else. Only looking to prevention is not sustainable in large numbers of countries.
And the reason the rate is on the increase like it is in Eastern Europe is due to the injecting drug-users being a potent vector. Cracked out people with needles tend to do a really good job of spreading HIV. This is why needle exchange programs are so important.posted by: J. Sams on 11.22.05 at 10:12 AM [permalink]
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