News / Africa

New World Bank AIDS Chief Says Prevention Challenges Remain

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid