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Leading AIDS Experts Urge Greater Focus on Behavior-Change Programs to Prevent HIV
Date:8/5/2008

Report: Hundreds of Studies Show that Programs to Curb Unsafe Sex and Drug Use are Highly Effective, but Often Overlooked in Global AIDS Response

MEXICO CITY, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- In a new report released today, an international panel of AIDS experts calls on global leaders to aggressively expand HIV prevention programs aimed at reducing high-risk behaviors, including unsafe sex and drug use. Citing hundreds of clinical trials and observational studies, the report concludes that behavior-change programs are highly effective for preventing HIV, but do not currently reach enough people to have a decisive impact on the epidemic.

The report, released by the Global HIV Prevention Working Group, notes that while many are skeptical about the effectiveness of behavioral HIV prevention programs, these interventions have been central to all national efforts to reduce HIV infection rates. Review of national prevention programs that include evidence-based behavior-change strategies shows that they have been associated with an overall 50%-90% decline in HIV infections in key populations.

"Behavioral HIV prevention works. Some have been pessimistic that it's possible to reduce HIV risk behaviors on a large scale, but this concern is misplaced," said Dr. Helene Gayle, co-chair of the Working Group, and president and CEO of CARE USA. "We should not confuse the difficulty in changing human behavior with the inability to do so."

The report, titled Behavior Change and HIV Prevention: (Re)Considerations for the 21st Century, acknowledges that it is challenging to design effective behavior-change programs and monitor their impact, and calls for additional research in these areas. At the same time, the report emphasizes that there is clear evidence that expanding prevention, including behavior-change programs, could save millions of lives -- projections commissioned by the Working Group show that expanding all scientifically proven HIV prevention stra
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SOURCE Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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