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Need for Change in Social Norms to Prevent Spread of HIV

to school. They were headed for lives where they would be able to make their own choices. We can’t do away with poverty overnight, but we can counter some of its worst effects. We also need to change the social norms that condone coercive sex and treat women as property. How do you make it unacceptable for schoolmasters to harass young girls? You prosecute them for it.’

Dr. Helene Gayle asserted that the big remaining challenges for governments, foundations and international health agencies was the need to develop new tools. She said, ‘We need to develop new tools. Diaphragms, circumcision, microbicides, treatment of herpes, oral prevention drugs and, ultimately, a vaccine—these technologies may all have roles to play. We’re making rapid progress toward effective microbicides, and we can hope that antiretroviral drugs will help prevent HIV infection as well as they treat it.'

However she said, 'These technologies are at least five to seven years from the market, and technology alone won’t solve the problem. Condoms are cheap, simple and highly effective, but they’re still underused. Only one in five people at risk for HIV has access to existing prevention approaches like education, condoms, HIV testing and treatment of other sexually transmitted disease. Even the best prevention programs typically reach only 10 to 30 percent of the people who could benefit. We need to get to a tipping point where we’re reaching at least 50 percent of people at risk. Then we will start tosee greater impact.’


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