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'Prevention, Cultural Changes Must Lead AIDS Battle'

r> On a scale of increasing importance from one to 10, Cates rated the importance of science in the struggle at about three. He put a seven next to the impact of cultural norms, political will, community standards, and what he calls "the general determinants of health". But changing cultural norms is difficult, because each society has different norms that affect their view of prevention techniques - whether it's using condoms or reducing the number of sexual partners.

"What we are trying to do is meet them where they are in terms of their personal norms or their societal norms," said Cates. "We need multiple, reinforcing messages that slowly but surely will...add up to measurable population changes." It's a slow process, but so is progress on medical solutions such as AIDS vaccines. Scientists working in that field don't expect an effective vaccine for another 10 years. The UN has set a goal of 2015 for halting the spread of AIDS and reversing its course. The biggest challenge will be ensuring that "complacency" doesn't set in among governments that have begun to take action, the World Bank's Zewdie said.



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