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Global AIDS Crisis Overblown? Some Dare to Say So

Global AIDS Crisis Overblown? Some Dare to Say So

In this Nov. 28, 2007 file photo, a social worker displays earrings and pendants made using the AIDS awareness symbol at a counseling center in Chennai, India. (AP Photo/M. Lakshman, File)

Maria Cheng / AP

November 30, 2008

LONDON – As World AIDS Day is marked on Monday, some experts are growing more outspoken in complaining that AIDS is eating up funding at the expense of more pressing health needs.

They argue that the world has entered a post-AIDS era in which the disease’s spread has largely been curbed in much of the world, Africa excepted.

AIDS is a terrible humanitarian tragedy, but it’s just one of many terrible humanitarian tragedies,” said Jeremy Shiffman, who studies health spending at Syracuse University.

Roger England of Health Systems Workshop, a think tank based in the Caribbean island of Grenada, goes further. He argues that UNAIDS, the U.N. agency leading the fight against the disease, has outlived its purpose and should be disbanded.

“The global HIV industry is too big and out of control. We have created a monster with too many vested interests and reputations at stake, … too many relatively well paid HIV staff in affected countries, and too many rock stars with AIDS support as a fashion accessory,” he wrote in the British Medical Journal in May.

Paul de Lay, a director at UNAIDS, disagrees. It’s valid to question AIDS’ place in the world’s priorities, he says, but insists the turnaround is very recent and it would be wrong to think the epidemic is under control.

“We have an epidemic that has caused between 55 million and 60 million infections,” de Lay said. “To suddenly pull the rug out from underneath that would be disastrous.”

U.N. officials roughly estimate that about 33 million people worldwide have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Scientists say infections peaked in the late 1990s and are unlikely to spark big epidemics beyond Africa.

In developed countries, AIDS drugs have turned the once-fatal disease into a manageable illness.

England argues that closing UNAIDS would free up its $200 million annual budget for other health problems such as pneumonia, which kills more children every year than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

“By putting more money into AIDS, we are implicitly saying it’s OK for more kids to die of pneumonia,” England said.

His comments touch on the bigger complaint: that AIDS hogs money and may damage other health programs.

By 2006, AIDS funding accounted for 80 percent of all American aid for health and population issues, according to the Global Health Council.

In Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere, donations for HIV projects routinely outstrip the entire national health budgets.

  • Jaiden_s_koi_max50


    about 6 years ago


    perhaps we should consider the fact that it isn't AIDS or HIV antiretroviral drugs that are taking important research dollars. It is the money and attention being paid to lifestyle drugs; restless leg, erectile disfuntion, difficulty sleeping. These are subacute conditions but the pharmeceutical companies are pouring billions into them because chumps keep buying them and the medical profesison keeps peddling them. If we want the money directed into the right areas, then we as a profession needs to collectivly tell the pharm companies what is important.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 6 years ago


    Being a nurse living with AIDS, I am dismayed by the attitude that somehow we are squandering money on fighting the biggest epidemic the world has ever seen. We still have no vaccine and no cure, and infection rates may fluctuate but are not down to such a low number that they do not need to be addressed. We have to remember that this is a contagious and expensive to treat illness...pneumonia and diarrheal disease do have much simpler solutions. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater! Alicia M Salgado RN BSN

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 6 years ago


    This is not politically correct to say, but it is true: With all the information that has been disseminated in the civilized world, AIDS now remains a disease caused by poor behavior. Literally all the new AIDS cases in the west are due to IV drug abuse and homosexual or illicit sex. To keep pouring money into a problem caused by lack of self control is criminal.

  • 05-21-2007-16_max50


    about 6 years ago


    AIDS is one of the biggest problems in the world today... Every year the amount of people that contract the diesease is growing higher and higher... I agree that there should be some sort of balance. But for them to want to completely lose focus of this issue is crazy.

  • Steth_max50


    about 6 years ago


    Claiming that those who contribute to aids research, whether financially or otherwise, are saying, "it's ok for more kids to die of pneumonia," is equivalent to name calling and does nothing to solve the problem. If anything it created enemies in a global fight against illness where allies are much needed. This key here is some kind of balance, and I personally don't have those magic numbers. Personally I think it's great to have a variety of people who will forever ague in different directions. As long as we have several different groups we can be sure that if one out of ten began to get carried away, then the other nine collectively would pull him back in line. No one person will ever formulate a balance everyone is happy with. Our best bet is for all of us to fight for diversity of research.

  • P_max50


    about 6 years ago


    It is always unfortunate that one problem has to take from another with funding but it is real life.
    It is a shame that there never seems to be a balance in issues like these. I do know that Epidemeology is expanding more each day to help Aids and HIV patients these postiions are not easy to fill and there is not enough of them opening up either. Most hospitals lack prevention and also lack creative new ways of intervening in infection control. For more information email me at and join us at Northstarnurses Weekly talkshoe. Visit to check out positions open or call me direct if your searching for a candidate or a perfect match position 336-644-6300 xt 122

  • Img000083_max50


    about 6 years ago


    noone is saying its ok for kids to die of pneumonia! Just because there isn't enough funding doesnt mean they are endorsing death by another illness!

  • Lori_recruiter_extraordinare___max50


    about 6 years ago


    there is still a huge need for aids research because it is still a growing problem amongst teens and middle age adults so i hope that funding isnt pulled from this!

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