Reproductive Health Supplies

Heed the Alarm: Scale up HIV Prevention

“For every
person who began antiretroviral therapy in 2006, six people were newly
infected,” according to a new report from the Global
HIV Prevention Working Group.Without a major scale-up of HIV prevention
programs, using existing prevention tools, 60 million more HIV infections are
projected to occur by 2015.
The
best of the best have confirmed what many knew to be true: Only by significantly
ramping up HIV prevention programs can we curb the scourge of HIV/AIDS. If the world does not listen, and new
HIV infections continue to grow as they are, we’ll have no one to blame but
ourselves.  The members of this group
are the most knowledgeable experts on HIV prevention in the world and they
have rung an alarm bell that world leaders must heed in order to put an
end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

 

Countries such
as Haiti and Kenya have seen
early success from a scale up of their HIV prevention programs, as reported by
the Prevention Working Group.
Haiti has seen a drop in HIV
prevalence among pregnant women (from 6% to 3.4% between 1998 and 2004). In Kenya, HIV
prevalence among adults fell dramatically, from 10% in the late 1990s to 6.1% in
2005.  But, with the populations of
Haiti and Kenya projected
to double in 43 and 27 years, respectively, how can this progress possibly
continue?

 

HIV prevention
and family planning should go hand in
hand. Voluntary, non-coercive family planning programs, including access to contraceptives, help HIV positive women avert unintended pregnancies, while programs that promote condom use not only reduce unintended pregnancies, they also prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections between sexual partners.

Tragically,
however, family planning has played a diminishing role in the
U.S. response to this epidemic.
President Bush’s fiscal year 2008 budget request slashed international family
planning assistance to Kenya and Haiti (as well as to six other PEPFAR focus countries) in half.
Meanwhile, populations are growing rapidly,
HIV/AIDS continues to spread, and demand for family planning and HIV prevention
and treatment programs continues to rise.

 

Ultimately, the
success of our global effort to eradicate HIV/AIDS is two fold: we must scale-up
prevention programs while simultaneously increasing access to family planning
programs. While a stronger
commitment to preventing new infections is paramount —and PAI joins the
Prevention Working Group in calling for this—we will never get ahead of the
race to end this deadly disease if people don’t have the tools to determine their own fertility.

 

PAI urges the
U.S. and other nations to rapidly
step up funding for HIV prevention and family planning programs. Ideology must be set aside in favor of
heeding the warnings and advice from the experts.

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