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  • « Déjà Bill all over again | Main | Experts rethink staph stories »

    January 19, 2008

    Rethinking spending on AIDS

    Posted by: Chris

    Cleanwater The Associated Press has an incredibly one-sided report out quoting public health experts who question whether too much money is being spent on HIV/AIDS globally in proportion with basic health problems like sanitation, malnutrition and clean water that are responsible for more deaths annually:

    "We have a system in public health where the loudest voice gets the most money," said Dr. Richard Horton, editor of Lancet. "AIDS has grossly distorted our limited budget."

    This is the same old saw we've heard for years, of course, although in the past its proponents were anti-gay conservatives whose compassion is limited to one sexual orientation. Now the doctors and researchers who have benefited from billions (spent far too late in the epidemic) are lobbying for more funds to deal with other health problems. No issue there but it's wrong to take from Peter to give to Paul.

    Unlike these other basic health problems, HIV/AIDS is an incurable epidemic already responsible for killing millions and infecting tens of millions more. The nature of the virus and the cost of adequate treatment mean it poses a health threat out of proportion to the number of its victims.

    Surely the AP could have found someone to make that case.

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    1. North Dallas Thirty on Jan 21, 2008 2:36:08 PM:

      Um, no.

      The nature of the virus and the cost of treatment are indeed good points for why HIV is important, but something else needs to be considered; the degree to which exposure can be limited or prevented.

      HIV is propagated by two main methods: unprotected sex and needle exchange -- neither of which are essential to life, and over both of which human beings can exercise tight control.

      In contrast, diseases like typhoid, diarrhea, malnutrition, malaria, and respiratory diseases are spread by drinking water, eating food, and breathing -- not exactly things that humans can avoid doing.

      Furthermore, if there's one thing we've learned in the United States, it's that not everyone needs to be on retrovirals -- if they are able to limit their exposure and take care of themselves. When you have people in Kenya drinking out of ditches that drain outhouses and going days without nutritious food, I'm not surprised that they have to hand out retrovirals like candy. Doesn't it make far more sense to fix the things that represent stress to their immune system in the first place?

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 30, 2011 1:59:21 AM:

      Doesn't it make far more sense to fix the things that represent stress to their immune system in the first place

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