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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs