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Lack of political will and the subordination of women are major barriers to tackling AIDS
Date:2/21/2008

prevention, treatment and care and strengthen national healthcare systems.

But even if it is made available, funding does not always reach the people who need it, because rulers in many countries are more interested in nursing their own power base and private fortune than the wellbeing of their people.

The main problems lie with a lack of political will to influence attitudes, implement prevention and provide care, together with a lack of healthcare infrastructure, including the drain of trained health-care workers from developing countries to the West.

Figures released by UNAIDS in December 2007 show that more than 32 million people worldwide half of them women - are now living with HIV, 2.5 million were newly infected in 2007 and 2.1 million including 360,000 children under 15 died of AIDS during the year.

Yet barriers to prevention are still common.

Condom use is the least expensive and most cost-effective method for preventing HIV transmission stresses Professor Kallings. However this protective measure is resisted by fundamentalist groups, such as the Vatican and the religious right in the USA, and may be a difficult subject in marriage.

Other preventative measures include the use of anti-retroviral treatment during pregnancy and after birth, circumcision and the treatment of other sexually transmitted diseases.

Professor Kallings extensive paper also provides a fascinating commentary on the discovery of AIDS and the myths and conspiracy theories that the disease has prompted. For example it details:

  • Conspiracy theories that HIV was a man-made virus and that childhood vaccines, condoms and some anti-retroviral drugs have been deliberately contaminated to spread the disease.

  • Alleged disinformation campaigns by the security services during the Cold War.

  • Retrospective research that has highlighted isolated cases as far back
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Source:Eurekalert

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