Friday, November 18, 2011
Posted by Brad Ogilvie/The William Penn House/The Mosaic Initiative at 6:56 PM
While this study is good news , the idea that we are going to simply treat our way to the end of the pandemic has serious flaws. First, treatment is not prevention. Treatment – in this case, taking pills – neglects to address the individual and societal transformations necessary if we are to truly have an HIV-free generation. We need education that overcomes stigma and fear. Consider this simple fact: currently, many of the highest-risk people do not get tested for HIV because of stigma, fear, and denial. Merely replacing a test with treatment is not going to get people in the door. In addition, there are these considerations:
- While treatments decrease transmission risk, there is a false sense of security that we need to be on alert for.
- There is an upward trend in the prosecution of people with HIV not telling their partners of their HIV-status; will this trend continue, or will a person on treatment be less responsible for communicating his/her status.
- There are growing waiting lists for treatment already. Merely demanding more money seems to be in denial of what is going on in the fiscal world, especially when the commitment to treatment needs to be open-ended.
- Ignored in all of this are studies that indicate self-testing for HIV can reach those higher-risk folks, can be done more cost-effectively, and when done in conjunction with digital education, can be very effective in both educating and encouraging testing, but activists and HIV/AIDS organizations stay silent on this while demanding more funding for treatment.
I am not suggesting any sort of broad conspiracy here, so much as the fact that “AIDS, Inc” (a conglomeration of politicians, pharma, HIV/AIDS organizations and activists) are participating in a sort of “group-think” that only looks at the system in place as the vehicle for ending the pandemic, and promoting campaigns that feed the system. Left out are new ideas and creative brainstorming that integrate such things as social networking and self-testing – both of which research shows are very effective as well.
UPDATE: Just after this was posted, UNAIDS released its annual World AIDS Day Report. In it, on page 21, the case is made for home self-testing for HIV. It will be interesting to see if perhaps an organization like this can help open eyes and minds. See more here.