Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report Summarizes Editorials, Opinion Pieces Related to AIDS Conference
Several newspapers have published editorials and opinion pieces in observance of the XVI International AIDS Conference, which was held Aug. 13 through Aug. 18 in Toronto. Summaries appear below.
Minneapolis Star Tribune: By forbidding funding for "harm reduction" strategies such as needle exchange programs and methadone treatment as a means of preventing the spread of HIV among injection drug users, the U.S. has "foolish[ly]" and "cruel[ly] ... racked up" the highest HIV incidence among IDUs of any developed country, a Star Tribune editorial says. Although epidemiologists for 20 years have known that harm reduction policies can "work wonders" in reducing HIV transmission among IDUs, "moralism" in the U.S. and elsewhere has allowed the disease to spread, the editorial says (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/19).
Philadelphia Daily News: A requirement in the U.S. law (HR 1298) authorizing the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that one-third of PEPFAR's HIV prevention funding should be used for abstinence-until-marriage programs has led to "criminal" cuts in funding for other prevention programs, a Daily News editorial says. The Daily News says a bill (HR 5674) -- sponsored by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa) -- that would repeal the one-third requirement should be approved to "restore sanity back to U.S. policy," adding that Pennsylvania's "record increase" in state HIV/AIDS funding without "ideological strings" provides a model for the federal government to use to fight the pandemic globally (Philadelphia Daily News, 8/21).
San Francisco Chronicle: Two U.S. policies -- one that requires one-third of HIV prevention funds received by countries through PEPFAR to be used for abstinence-until-marriage programs, and another that requires U.S. organizations providing HIV/AIDS-related services in other countries to sign a pledge opposing commercial sex work and sex trafficking to be considered for federal funding -- are "obstacles in the practical business of cornering AIDS," a Chronicle editorial says. HIV/AIDS is a "sprawling, shifting disease" that creates a "policy nightmare that divides policymakers who should be united," the editorial says, adding, "Maybe it's time to suspend giant AIDS confabs such as this past week's that fixate on controversy, not solutions" (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/20).
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: There was "reason for both optimism and concern" in the fight against HIV/AIDS at the AIDS conference last week, a Post-Dispatch editorial says. Although there has been an "extraordinary jump" in the number of people receiving antiretroviral drugs worldwide, it is still "troubling that so many years after the epidemic began, AIDS continues to spread quickly across sub-Saharan Africa," the editorial says. "But if the last few years have shown nothing else, it is that, with determination and adequate funding, rapid progress is possible," the editorial concludes (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/20).
Tennessean: Although the HIV/AIDS pandemic is a "complex ... issue," the "focus" on tackling the epidemic should be a "frank and open dialogue" about the "best ways to educate nations about reducing risks of infection," a Tennessean editorial says. The editorial adds that countries "should not overlook" preliminary findings on studies for prevention methods such as circumcision and microbicides (Tennessean, 8/21).
Winnipeg Free Press: The closing statements at last week's AIDS conference "let fly a torrent of harsh words" against wealthy nations and other donors of HIV/AIDS programs for failing to spend enough money to stem the global pandemic, a Free Press editorial says. "But billions of dollars and the best medicine that science can offer can be frustrated if HIV-endemic states do not rise to the challenge before them," the editorial says, concluding that HIV is "entirely preventable, and ... remarkable strides can be made with reliable information and political will" (Winnipeg Free Press, 8/21).
- Randall Denley, Ottawa Citizen: Although the AIDS conference is over, "I'm still unclear on one point: Why is the AIDS crisis in Africa the West's problem to solve?" Citizen columnist Denley writes in an opinion piece. Denley writes, "Reducing the rate of HIV infection ultimately relies on individuals, not governments or foreign aid agencies," concluding, "The problem of AIDS in Africa is a terrible human tragedy but stopping it is primarily Africans' responsibility, not ours" (Denley, Ottawa Citizen, 8/20).
- Shelley Fralic, Vancouver Sun: Many speeches given at the AIDS conference made it seem that the "solution to the HIV/AIDS pandemic ... lies in the hands of women," columnist Fralic writes in a Sun opinion piece, adding, "[D]o the 20,000-plus professionals ... attending the high-profile conference really believe that's achievable?" Fralic poses the question of how this goal will be reached when "men have always held the sexual power over women," and many women at risk have no "physical, social, legal or financial means to negotiate [their] destiny, let alone [their] own sexual health." Instead of promoting the message of empowerment, speakers at the AIDS conference should have "stepped up to the plate" and said "[m]en of the world, you started this mess, you spread this mess, now you need to take responsibility for it and fix it," Fralic writes (Fralic, Vancouver Sun, 8/18).