Sunday, August 07, 2005

HIV/AIDS: too much focus on Africa?

According to some Brazilian AIDS activists, Africa has received an excessive amount of attention by the media and researchers, and has led to the neglect of HIV/AIDS concerns in other regions of the world, including Latin America. Speaking at last week's Third International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment in Rio, Katia Braga Edmundo, a coordinator with the Centre for the Promotion of Health (CEDAPS), said that more attention should be paid to issues such as lipodystrophy and the development of resistance to the drugs currently in use.

Perhaps it is distasteful to compare tragedies, but Brazil does have universal access to anti-retroviral drugs, whereas the situation in sub-Saharan Africa (with the exception of Botswana) is strikingly different. If a comparison is made between Brazil and sub-Saharan countries in terms of annual new HIV infections, annual HIV/AIDS-related mortality, estimated economic costs due to the pandemic, and percentage of the needy population with access to AIDS treatment, then the attention paid to Africa might be anything but excessive. Lipodystrophy in Africa is an affliction only few can afford.

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