Expert Warn Against Complacency on HIV/ AIDS

HIV/ AIDS experts arrive in Kampala, capital of the African country Uganda, for a meeting and have called for increased promotion of HIV/ AIDS prevention in order to stop complacency about the pandemic. Speaking at the opening of a five-day global HIV/ AIDS Implementers’ Meeting, they say that although countries have started recording lower rates of HIV infections, most AIDs responses pay little attention to prevention.

Peter Piot, executive director of the Joint United Nations Program for HIV/ AIDS (UNAIDS), elaborated that although 87 percent of countries in the world have established clear and ambitious goals for HIV treatment, only 50 percent have targets for HIV prevention therapy. He added that there is a need to work harder on HIV/ AIDS prevention and to ensure there is no complacency. "For every two persons who are put on treatment, five are infected," he said.

Mark Dybul, coordinator of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, said countries should take HIV prevention as serious as finding a cure for the disease. Meanwhile, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who opened the conference, attributed the complacency to the provision of antiretroviral treatment, which people see as a cure for AIDS.

President Museveni added that message on HIV/ AIDS should indicate that a person under antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) is not as normal as the one who does not have the virus, avoiding the sense of false security.

Kihmuro Apuuli, director of Uganda AIDS Commission, told reporters that many Ugandans especially adults over 30 years of age are engaging in high-risk sexual behavior with the false perception that ARVs would heal them in case they get infected. ARVs could only control the HIV, and patients with the virus should be under this treatment for a lifetime.

According to the 2007 UNAIDS and World Health Organization report, more than 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV. Among them, about 2.5 million people were infected in 2007. The report estimates that more than 6,800 people become infected with HIV everyday, and more than 5,700 die from AIDS daily mostly because of inadequate access to HIV prevention and treatment services.

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