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

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora