Health Economics and AIDS Research Division (HEARD), University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
There is no viable substitute for re-energizing, funding and supporting culturally attuned, locally staffed HIV advocacy and prevention programmes, especially in resource poor settings. The evidence that such interventions are effective remains compelling; and although the cost implications are not negligible, the medium to long-term outcomes must be regarded not as complementary, but as integral, to biomedical interventions. The success of the anti-retroviral drugs upscale has enabled a noticeable improvement in AIDS related morbidity and mortality in the recent years; yet the underlying dynamics of the epidemic remains undetermined by the rate at which new infections are taking place in relation to the number of AIDS deaths. While the rate of new HIV infections is stabilising in some of the hardest hit countries, it remains far too high and the future cost of maintaining an ever-expanding pool of people reliant on daily drugs for survival is unsustainable. Countries must exercise caution in continuing to focus on treatment as a ‘quick fix’ to end AIDS as a public health concern. HIV is a socially culturally induced crisis and, as such, a variety of measures are needed simultaneously to appeal to different people, groups and circumstances.
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