HIV/AIDS, Reproductive Health Services Worldwide Should Be Integrated, Opinion Piece Says
U.S. HIV/AIDS programs could become more "effective and sustainable" if HIV/AIDS services worldwide were integrated with reproductive health services, Janet Fleischman, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, writes in a Baltimore Sun opinion piece. Integrating the two services would "better serve the needs of clients and health care providers in a more comprehensive, cost-effective and efficient manner," according to Fleischman. In addition, integration would help to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission, as well as the number of children who lose at least one parent to AIDS-related complications, and it would keep women healthy, "alleviating the burdens on families and communities," Fleischman writes. "The benefits of integrated programs also serve U.S. policy goals on AIDS care, prevention and treatment," Fleischman adds. According to Fleischman, some U.S. lawmakers "will be uncomfortable" with the idea of integrating HIV/AIDS programs with reproductive health programs "if they assume that 'reproductive health' is merely a euphemism for abortion services." However, reproductive health refers to many women's health issues, including the treatment of sexually transmitted infections and support for HIV-positive women who want to have children, Fleischman writes. Fleischman calls on U.S. AIDS officials to "identify the barriers to integration and make the necessary adjustments in policies and programs." The XVI International AIDS Conference, scheduled for Aug. 13 through Aug. 18 in Toronto, is an "opportune moment for the U.S. and its partners to make this integration a higher priority," Fleishman writes, concluding that otherwise, "'what we're doing is like mopping the floor while the roof is leaking"' (Fleischman, Baltimore Sun, 7/26).
The XVI International AIDS Conference program is now available online.