News / Africa

    New World Bank AIDS Chief Says Prevention Challenges Remain

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua

    The new head of the World Bank’s Global HIV/AIDS Program says much more needs to done to lower infection rates.

    Dr. David Wilson, a Zimbabwean national, takes over the job just prior to this month’s 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna.  He says familiar challenges remain some 30 years into the epidemic.  “I think that the major challenge 30 years on is the challenge that we faced 30 years ago.  And that is making prevention work.”

    He says there have been some “striking prevention successes” in concentrated epidemics in the North, Asia and Latin America.  But “immense challenges” remain in Africa, especially Southern Africa.

    Epicenter

    “You’ve got a band of about 10 countries with two percent of the world’s population and a third of their HIV infections.  But I think we’re starting to see some really exciting prevention developments in Southern Africa,” he says.

    This includes increasing acceptance of male circumcision.

    “We know that male circumcision is the single most effective prevention tool that we have,” Wilson says.  And countries in Southern Africa are now really seriously beginning to expand their male circumcision programs.  There’s a determination and a desire to succeed.”

    There’s also progress in behavior change, including efforts to reduce multiple or concurrent sex partners.  “These have also been taken up with great urgency by governments in Africa now.  I think prevention is looking more hopeful than it has for a long time,” he says.

    Successful prevention makes sustained treatment programs possible.

    “Through that combination of effective prevention and sustained treatment we can really arrest this epidemic.”

    Condoms, abstinence

    Some have called for concentrated safe sex programs by individual countries.  For example, South African professor Alan Whiteside agrees that innovative thinking is needed.  He and Oxford professor Justin Parkhurst say perhaps intense national month-long campaigns that really promote safe sex – including condoms and abstinence – could greatly interrupt infection cycles in many countries.

    Dr. Wilson says, “The focus on concerted behavior change is very necessary.  I think it needs to be sustained rather than simply for a month.  I think what we’ve seen with HIV prevention after 30 years is what a tenacious and dogged virus this is.  And it doesn’t let up and our prevention programs have to be equally sustained.”

    AIDS 2010

    The 18th International AIDS Conference – the world’s largest AIDS gathering – will be held in Vienna from July 18th through the 23rd and will place an emphasis on the epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The theme is “Rights Here, Right Now.”

    “Vienna was chosen as the conference venue partly as a gateway to Eastern Europe.  And in Eastern Europe, we have epidemics, which are overwhelmingly driven by injecting drugs use, which in cases of countries such as Ukraine are significant epidemics,” he says.

    But there’s an opportunity to turn things around.  Wilson says the tools exist to deal with the problem; now the will and commitment are needed.

    “We do know that if we do the right programs for injecting drug users by providing clean needles and syringes – and by providing access to opiate substitution therapies – we can make a difference,” he says.

    Recently, AIDS 2010 released the Vienna Declaration, which calls for a radical change in international anti-drug policies.  Among its recommendations is the decriminalization of injection drug use and treating the issue as a health problem.

    “We need to present public health policies in ways which are most acceptable to the countries in question.  And I certainly think that an approach that emphasizes public health rather than policing is important,” he says.

    “If we simply focus on clean needles and syringes and opiate substitution, without also promoting programs to reduce drug addiction, we do isolate ourselves from the wider society and decision makers.  So I think it’s an excellent principle, but it needs to be balanced against important political considerations we face.”

    Flatline Funding

    Many HIV/AIDS activists and NGOs this year have accused international donors of flatlined funding as they try to recover from the global economic crisis.

    “I think that it is true that we are in a context when HIV money is either flat or trending towards flat,” says Wilson.  And I think it is true that we face competing challenges from other health issues.”

    Those challenges, he says, makes it important to make better use of existing funds and resources.  “We’re not in a world where resources for HIV will continue to increase at the pace they increased in the past,” he says.

    Wilson joined the World Bank in 2003, working in HIV/AIDS programs for such countries as South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, India, China, Vietnam, Lebanon and Papua New Guinea.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora