Has AIDS hijacked the world health agenda?

Is the illness getting the funding it deserves, or are illnesses like TB and Malaria suffering?

Here are a few facts:
*TB kills an estimated 2 million people each year and is the leading cause of death for people with AIDS.
*At least 1 million people die from malaria each year, mostly children in Africa.
*AIDS is the world’s fourth leading cause of death.

Is too much money being poured into AIDS research and treatment, would a more targeted approach make more sense and free up money to tackle other illnesses.? Or does AIDS actually need more funding to educate people and remove the stigma?

It’s being reported today that an Indian couple who were HIV+ killed themselves and their three children, after discovering their six year old daughter had contracted the virus.

And this article argues we are criminalising the illness.

Where do you think the money should be going?

82 Responses to “Has AIDS hijacked the world health agenda?”

  1. 1 Brett
    August 8, 2008 at 14:30

    @ Criminalization article:
    In Africa – which has about two-thirds of the world’s HIV cases – a U.S.-financed “model” statute that broadly criminalizes transmission and exposure has been adopted by 11 countries, and others may do the same. The law requires those who know they have HIV to inform “any sexual contact” in advance – without defining “sexual contact.” (Does the definition, for example, include kissing?)

    In this we need to also defend the victim’s [an unknowing individual who is infected or could potentially become infrected by a knowing carrier of HIV/AIDS] rights’ as well. I use the term victim because thats exactly what it is, the unknowing individual is a victim of someone elses poor judgement and selfishness.
    It should absolutely be criminal if you fail to inform a sexual contact that you are HIV positive and you know it. I don’t care how many condoms you use or how safe you think you are being, the other person has a right to know.

  2. August 8, 2008 at 14:36

    World Health has hijacked the world health agenda. Globally it seems that we have never been more afraid of dying then we are today. Even though our life span, general health, and medical technologies have improved by leaps and bounds over the past 100 years.

    The issues that most often get the most attention is not necessarily the one that is the most devastating. Most often the issues that are marketed the best receive more attention and more aid. Could you imagine if health budgets were divided according to casualty rates?

  3. 3 Robert Evans
    August 8, 2008 at 14:37

    The news story you talk about is simply tragic. The international community needs to fund education programmes to inform people who are at risk of catching this virus. This is because people who get AIDS then other people who can be rather unpleasent. But personally I think that even if someone has got the virus is that the person is the same person they just AIDS, Personally I think that people shouldnt be discriminated especially when they just need some help.

  4. 4 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 14:41

    Hi WHYSers!

    I am agreed with Brett’s last point about the right to know. I am not sure though whether criminalising those carriers of AIDS who knowingly infect others is the best option though. Aren’t people obligated to know about their partner’s sexual histories and health before jumping into the sack, at the very least? Not that that is a guarantee but the act of criminalising one person shifts the burden of responsibility, in a way, I think!

    …By the way, the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games was/ is spectacular!!!!!

  5. 5 gary
    August 8, 2008 at 14:43

    Yes, pretty much! It is a horrendous disease certainly; but it isn’t particularly contagious. Prophylaxis is simple: Don’t share bodily fluids with infected folks! While the workings of the AIDS virus are of immense interest to virologists, the far greater share of money should be spent on education and prevention programs. In addition, as you comments on tuberculosis and malaria exemplify, many diseases are far more common, contagious and deadly, not to mention the huge number of folks allowed to die quietly every year of simple starvation. I guess these guys also need a cadre of articulate, imaginative spokespersons.

  6. 6 Melanie Chassen
    August 8, 2008 at 14:45

    At first glance, I would say that AIDS does hijack the world health agenda. The only other disease that probably comes close in terms of “popularity” is cancers. That being said, I understand why AIDS gets so much attention – at one point I believe it was the leading cause of death in the world. The fact that this is no longer the case simply means we are at the beginning of a shift in our attention. AIDS got all the attention because the most people were suffering from it. Now that other diseases are causing more damage, the attention should eventually shift to them. Does anyone know where cancer is on the list? I would imagine that regardless of where it falls, it will always get attention because so many people are affected by all the different types of cancers.

  7. 7 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 14:47

    As for freeing up monies for other research, there may well be a point in that though I am sure that the ravages of AIDS across the globe probably warrants this kind of investment. Only this week, we heard that the rates of infections in the US is up by 40%, more than they had been previously aware and a couple of years ago, it was said that there was a ‘newer’, more resistant strain of the virus! Yikes! Then, there is the research which says that because of the ways that some Africans immune systems have evolved to fight off malaria that makes them more susceptible to the virus! Even more Yikes! The need for research and the need to find a cure coupled with all the other social dynamics of this deadly disease are perhaps worth the investment! What worries me, however, is will be able to find a cure in time at the current rate and how many more must die before this happens? This is a real tragedy!!

  8. 8 Brett
    August 8, 2008 at 14:48

    @ Raw:
    It could absolutely have a negative effect by lessening the perceived risk of unprotected sex if people think they are better off because it is illegal for someone not to tell them (of course there are always those who have the virus and have no idea).
    But when you say people are obligated to know (and I agree they are), how do you ensure such an obligation is met?

    Also, please note, I am not advocating criminalizing those with the disease (nor do I think anyone is), I am advocating criminalizing those who enter into sexual encouters with others and do not tell them of their HIV-positive status. There is a very big difference, lets make sure we don’t get it confused.

  9. 9 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 14:48

    @ gary,

    Excellent point!

  10. 10 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 14:51

    @ Brett,

    I am actually advocating the business of personal responsibility. I know the temptation is great for us to ignore all of what we know to be “common sense” when the hormones start racing, however, part of the problem is that peoples’ attitudes towards sex, especially, seem so casual for the most part. It is like some people want to have this disease! And that is not a judgement! Just stating a fact about how we negotiate sex/ ual relations. An obligation to know focusses on individual choices and forces us to, I hate to say, “become responsible”. That is why gary’s point is so important!!!!!!!!!!

  11. 11 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 14:57

    the education effort must also include ourselves. How many of us can actually say we have always been very “responsible” in this regard? I ask that, not so much to make a confession or put anyone on the spot, but simply to say that we need to challenge ourselves to hold fast to some of what we know to be true about how this disease is spread. The fact is that HIV/ AIDS throws open the door for all sort of social issues, among them the empowerment of women and children, especially in cases where they are expected to provide sexual favours for older men, no questions asked. Wives, etc. have to get the facts and the public health officials must target vulnerable communities in this regard. Criminalisation, in my view, only addresses part of what the problem with this disease is – access and empowerment. If those can be fixed then we may well be on the road to lessening the deadly impact of the AIDS virus!

  12. 12 John in Salem
    August 8, 2008 at 14:57

    No. Malaria is mostly limited to the tropics and neither it nor TB can transmit unseen within a population the way that AIDS can. Without the funding there has been there for education we would now be dealing with a global catastrophe that would make the Black Plague look like a mild flu epidemic.

  13. 13 Brett
    August 8, 2008 at 14:57

    An obligation to know focusses on individual choices and forces us to, I hate to say, “become responsible”. That is why gary’s point is so important!!!!!!!!!!

    But how responsible is responsible? There is only a certain level of ‘responsibility’ most people are willing to accept it seems. Furthermore in sex, you are only 50% of the ‘responsibility factor’. So you thinking your responsible by using protection, or waiting until marriage to have sex, or any other form of responsibility is still only limited to being as responsible as your partner is, was and will be.

    Is responsible not having one night stands with a stranger, even if you use protection? Is responsible waiting until being in a relationship to have sex? Is responsible waiting until marriage to have sex? Is responsible not having sex at all?

    The only surefire way one can be 100% responsible when it comes to AIDS and sex is to not have sex at all.

    The next best thing would be to wait until you are in a comitted relationship (marriage or otherwise), you both get tested, then have sex and even then there’s the factor that one of the two is likely to cheat at some point…. And the whole plan is blown out of the water then.

  14. 14 Shaun in Halifax
    August 8, 2008 at 15:00

    We edu-ma-cated types are capable of discussing a topic or belief we may not completely buy into, and that’s what I’m doing here. I’m deliberately being blunt for the best effect.

    So here’s three theses I have developed which may or may not determine how a good chunk of domestic research funding is allocated:

    1) The mob is fickle.
    Focus on which disease gets promoted to the public eye is a result of public opinion or which ribbon/bracelet is currently popular as a fashion accessory.

    2) Political focus determines funding focus.
    If the President/PM is interested in cancer research, the lion’s share of medical funding will go into cancer research. If the leader is focused on stem cell research, funding will go into stem cell research.

    3) Funding has been commoditized.
    There is a fininte amount of money allocated for medical research. It is a zero-sum game where more funding for one area means less funding for another. This has lead to marketing as a way to get funding, which directly relates to the first 2 points.

    I’m wondering what people think about this? Accurate? Am I completely off-base?

  15. 15 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 15:08

    @ Brett,

    But that is precisely my point. I am saying that criminalising people defeats the whole campaign against stigma which is a fundamental hurdle overwhich to come in this fight against the spread of AIDS. It might be that this disease will refocus our attentions on how we negotiate human relations in the realms of sex as well as how we negotiate sex. I know there is no guarantee, in terms of whether a partner will cheat on you (or me, as the case might be!) but the reality is that it is precisely because it is a fifty-fifty equation in that regard why these issues are so important. There are women who feel that using a condom with their husbands is a sign of lack of trust and infidelity, even while they may suspect that their husbands are cheating on them; worse yet, even while they are cheating on their husbands.

    Let’s be real about this – the cost in terms of human lives warrants this sort of frank, honest discussion between people in sexual relationships. As for one night stands, all I can say is, we each choose our own poison….!

  16. 16 Brett
    August 8, 2008 at 15:15

    @ Raw:

    I completely agree, but:

    But that is precisely my point. I am saying that criminalising people defeats the whole campaign against stigma which is a fundamental hurdle overwhich to come in this fight against the spread of AIDS.

    What then do we do about those who knowingly engage in sexual encounters with individuals and do not tell them beforehand (regardless of if the partners become infected or not)?
    I’m not advocating criminalising people, but criminalising acts.

  17. 17 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 15:16

    Even, the Pope recently said that the Church is reconsidering the use of condoms for people who have HIV/ AIDS. Based on how many people actually get tested and are aware of their status that could really be a significant cross section of world populations, which take us back to the question of trust, information and behaviour change. If AIDS gets the lion’s share of research funding then more of that funding needs to be invested in social programmes that emphasise these things. We cannot feel like we are slaves to our libidos, notwithstanding how powerful it can be. In the absence of a known cure, self regulation may well be an appropriate response. Let’s not forget that HIV/ AIDS is said to be a lifestyle disease, which really means how we choose to live. Do we want to be “victims” as you say, or survivors?

  18. August 8, 2008 at 15:16

    One major difficulty encountered when tackling the scourge of HIV on the continent of Africa is that, it’s mostly wholly attributed to the licentiousness of the victim. Most people here still attach a whole lot of stigma to HIV carriers because it is felt, their plight emanates from their infidelity which is just one obnoxious notion.

  19. 19 Melanie Chassen
    August 8, 2008 at 15:17

    @ Shaun,

    Funding IS commoditized but only to a point. That’s why you get people volunteering to canvass for certain organizations (like the Canadian Cancer Society, for example) to raise money. These organizations know that they are given a finite amount of money from governments, so they appeal to people who are willing to give their time and possibly some of their money to try get more funding.

    But I do think your comment about ribbons/bracelets was a little tactless. The public opinion piece is correct, but these are people’s lives we are talking about. I don’t think it’s appropriate to suggest that people support a cause because it’s “fashionable”. I would expect most people support the causes they do because they’ve had some sort of related personal experience. In fact, that could be the reason that cancer gets more funding research than say – arthritis (and I mean SERIOUS cases of arthritis, not the joints problems we all get as we age). There are so many types of cancer, more people are affected by it. Those that are affected donate money. I think we could argue that the funding diseases get is directly proportionate to how many people are affected by it, either directly or indirectly.

  20. 20 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 15:19

    @ Brett,

    But, you will note that I agreed, in part, with what you said at the start. However, the difficulty with criminalisation of acts, in part, is complicated by the issue of intent. How do we prove that, especially in cases where people don’t even know they are carriers of the virus? That places us in strange and difficult waters. How do we deal with that?

    I say focus on the merits of gary’s point – public education, behaviour change and empowering the vulnerable. And those are not easy issues to fix. Perhaps that might force us to treat with each other with a little more respect…Just a thought!

  21. 21 Robert
    August 8, 2008 at 15:21

    AIDs is a disease that should get a lot of focus in the west. It is something that kills young people who otherwise would have a long life. When you do the cost vs. benefit review for spending your looking at the large number of a few extra productive years of an average cancer patient vs. a small number of many extra years for an average HIV/AIDS patient. Doing this HIV/AIDS drugs are viable and can be justified.

    In the developing world the money could be better spent in preventing HIV/AIDs because condoms and abstinence will also stop other diseases and slow population growth. Multiple problems are solved using the same solution and therefore spreading the costs. But developing countries shouldn’t be looking into the drugs to treat those already infected like the west is. The money is better spent on the more wide spread infections that already have cures and vaccines (TB malaria, yellow fever). Using African money for what is still effectively a drug trail by the drug companies is a waste.

  22. 22 Brett
    August 8, 2008 at 15:24

    @ Raw:

    AIDS is said to be a lifestyle disease

    Tell that to the responsible woman or man who’s husband / wife cheated on them and infected them. They weren’t living to become a victim, they became so because of someone elses lack of responsibility and regard for others.

    AIDS is not a disease relagated to hormone-overloaded people who go at it like rabbits. It’s a disease that anyone can contract, regardless of how you live your lifestyle or how ‘responsible’ you think you are being (you can reduce the chances, yes); UNLESS you refrain from sex and IV drug use for your entire life. At that point the chances are miniscule that you will contract it from any other means.

    Furthermore, I think the above comment helps support the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

  23. 23 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 15:32

    @ Brett,

    No it does not! I must disagree with you! I hear in your point that any action within the realm of sex, or IV drug use makes it more likely that we will contract HIV/ AIDS! I disagree, certainly in relation to the point about sex! In fact, I am suggesting that by “being responsible”, people are always engaged in a relationship where these issues are discussed and negotiated. The reality is that whatever action we engage in may well cause our deaths. People who knowingly go out and infect others, sure, there has to be a mechanism to deal with that. However, the focus of the campaign cannot be on that. Why? Because, like you said, there are several other ways of contracting this disease.

    “Going at it like rabbits”, as you claim, is no guarantee that you will get AIDS. It simply means that how you “go at it like rabbits” might require some thought. If you love sex, like most people I know, then there is also a need, I feel, to get (all) the facts and act on them. Getting tested, knowing your status and that your partners and trusting each other. That is not so difficult, as you might think. Surely, it is not impossible! Why the resistance?

  24. 24 Brett
    August 8, 2008 at 15:32

    How do we prove that, especially in cases where people don’t even know they are carriers of the virus? That places us in strange and difficult waters. How do we deal with that?

    Great points, it may deter people from getting tested if they know that should they be found HIV positive, they will have to curtail their sex habits. Since if they don’t know for sure, technically its not illegal.

    To prove a knowing individual engaged in sex with another I suppose medical records would suffice for the defendant… Then how do you prove that it was said or not said to the plaintiff? Well then a signed document acknowledging the plaintiff understands the risks is all I can come up with.
    It’s all quite silly and a bit much. Honestly, someone who is knowingly HIV positive should not be having sex with anyone else unless they are HIV positive also. Anything otherwise is like tossing a loaded gun to your partner and playing russian roulette to see when or if ‘its’ gonna happen, only just with them, the gun already went off on you [and not anyone directly, just figuratively speaking].

  25. 25 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 15:34

    @ Brett,

    And, how does my comments above help support the stigma of HIV/ AIDS? I am curious.

  26. August 8, 2008 at 15:38

    I think AIDS needs all of the attention for two major reasons:

    1. The disease has no cure and there needs maximum publicity. It can ruin the economy of a country by reducing it labor force. It can be spread easily if the proper education is not given to people on how it is transmitted from one person to another. Publicity requires money.

    2. The stigma associated with the HI Virus is such that if the proper education is not given about this disease it could lead to people virtually isolating family members. In fact in my country, Liberia, people do not expose their HIV status. Being HIV positive in Liberia is a sentence to isolation even by family members.

  27. 27 Brett
    August 8, 2008 at 15:38

    @ Raw:

    People who knowingly go out and infect others, sure, there has to be a mechanism to deal with that. However, the focus of the campaign cannot be on that.

    I completely agree with you. I don’t think that criminalisation of the act of knowingly endangering others with the disease should be paramount. Education should be, but what needs to be changed in the way we are educating people? We have been screaming Education Education Education! for decardes now… And yet people are still becoming infected every day.
    We need to dive deep into the education not only of the disease but of social lifestyles as well and its relation to the spread of the disease (I completely agree with you there).

  28. August 8, 2008 at 15:38

    All the dangerous diseases should be tackled rigorously to ensure general health. AIDS gets such a large attention and funding because it is easier to transmit than some other contagious diseases. One AIDS carrier can transmit the disease to hundreds of promiscuous people through sexual relations.

    In some countries in Africa ,like South Africa, there are millions of AIDS carriers, which should be seen as a time-bomb if this disease isn’t tackled seriously as it can lead to the wiping out of a very large portion of the population if kept unchecked and without publicity about its danger.

    Malaria can be the cause of the natural atmosphere surrounding its victims. For AIDS, it’s in most part man’s own doing either because of being ignorant or careless about it. Those who are suffering now from AIDS should get all the necessary treatment. For other illness like TB and malaria there should be more funds to tackle them. It’s not healthy to let one disease spread to tackle another one. When it comes to health, there is no choice but to tackle all diseases according to their dangers and not the funds allocated to them.

  29. 29 steve
    August 8, 2008 at 15:39

    Yes. Certain PC elements tend to focus on certain illness. Not to say AIDS research shouldn’t be funded, but there are more serious diseases, and HIV is entirely preventable as well. Even certain types of cancers get more funding and media attention than others. Breast cancer vs. Prostate cancer. No comparison in funding.


  30. 30 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 15:41

    @ Brett,

    I again, must disagree with you about people who have AIDS should not be having sex, unless with someone in a similar state. Now, if there is a point about contributing to stigma and creating second and third class citizens this would be it. First, we make them into criminals and then we limit their rights? What’s next? Concentration camps and targetted, mass executions? Do you see how dangerous this suggestion of yours is, especially as it cannot realistically be proven in all instances? I understand that you are concerned, but running around half cocked is perhap just as dangerous as the Russian Roulette point you make. We have to act rationally. Robert’s point above, though arguable in parts, I think, make the larger point of a more targetted approach to addressing this problem in different locales. There is no ‘silver’ or ‘magic bullet’, but surely a one size fits all approach is not the answer either. We must think strategically about how we respond to this situation.

  31. 31 Brett
    August 8, 2008 at 15:43

    And, how does my comments above help support the stigma of HIV/ AIDS? I am curious.

    Inferring that those who are HIV positive had some sort of deviance in their lifestyle [in regards to the way the general population lives their lives] which caused them to contract the disease?

  32. 32 steve
    August 8, 2008 at 15:49

    @ Brett

    The majority of HIV cases come from risky sex and drug usage. How is that not “deviant” behavior? We need to stop the PC talk. Deviant just means differs from the norm. We all know the HIV rate is higher in the homosexual community than in the straight community. That’s just what happens from that type of sex. I don’t need to spell it out, but just think about it. Homosexuality is not the norm, hence it is deviant behavior. Just like how most people like to drink water, the few that don’t are devients. Doesn’t mean they are bad, it just means they are different from the norm. Given the riskyness of homosexual sex is higher, one should use condoms. We need to stop making excuses for people and make sure they are responsible. Anything else just enables risky behavior and allows people to become infected.

    Same with fat acceptance movements. If we enable fat people to be fat, they won’t make the effort to get in shape and heart disease, cancer rates, and diabetes rates will skyrocket. Time to stop enabling poor behavior.

  33. 33 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 15:49

    @ Brett,

    Well, the burden of proof is yours in that regard.

    I shall only only say that there is need for a more strategic, rational approach than that suggested by you. I stand by that point. As for whether people have AIDS were/ are deviant is really not my concern. My concern is how do we get the message out about prevention? What steps can we implement to lessen the deadly impact of this disease? And, is investing in AIDS in the way we currently do, being done at the risk of other important priorities? World governments must determine these things for themselves. What is certain is that we require multiple and carefully considered responses to arrest the spread and impact of AIDS, right now! Does that mean more money for research? Possibly! Is that the same as saying that equivalent resources should be pumped into other illnesses? I am not sure! But, what is certain is that the ravages of AIDS, as a single disease which can be prevented (HIV) is untold!

  34. 34 Brett
    August 8, 2008 at 15:50

    @ Raw:

    I wasn’t advocating that it be policy that knowingly positive individuals should not be having sex with negative individuals, just my personal feeling, especially in regards to limiting the spread of the disease.
    Furthermore, and I’ll say this again, no one is criminalising HIV positive individuals, they are criminalising acts committed by HIV positive individuals which carry a known risk to another individual which is not HIV positive. Risks which are absent in an HIV negative individual committing the same acts.

  35. 35 Brett
    August 8, 2008 at 15:53

    @ Steve:

    I agree, but we are never going to get over the stigma associated with HIV / AIDS if we walk around talking as blunt as we want and making generalizations about the disease and those who have contracted it. Each case is an individual case, many were not leading irresponsible lives (outside of the societal norm), many were; But because of that we are willing to label the disease as a “deviants disease”?

  36. August 8, 2008 at 15:55

    Hi gang ! :-)… In my very humble opinion as a Baghdadi medical student, To compare the danger of TB and Malaria to the danger of AIDS is totally absurd… In Iraq TB is pretty common, while Malaria is relatively rare… The crucial point that we all must page a great deal of attention to is that currently commercially available anti-TB and anti-Malarial drugs are highly effective and produce very high rates of cure that may reach 100% in a very large number of cases on condition that the patient is totally compliant i.e. takes his/her medications on time and with the required dose as prescribed by his/her doctor…. While AIDS can never be 100% cured, and its infectivity lasts for life, also it ultimately makes the patient immunocompromised i.e. more susceptible to TB as well as to many other serious illnesses including CA which is eventually a disease with a lethal outcome in many cases…With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  37. 37 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 15:59

    @ Brett,

    But I think we are confusing two issues here. As highlighted in your explanation above – ‘deviant disease’ and ‘deviant people’ are very problematic, if not different terms. The fact that stigma impacts how we feel about people living with HIV/ AIDS is all the more reason why we cannot get into focussing attentions on criminality, simply because as you note not all instances are the same. I

    n fact, I am not so sure I know that Steve’s point about homosexuals being the the group in which AIDS is hightest is correct, but I will go with saying that this is precisely why public education campaigns aimed at empowering people and the choices they make are so important in this discussion.

    From where I sit, that should be the area that is focussed on the most.

  38. 38 steve
    August 8, 2008 at 16:08

    @ Brett

    It’s just a word, we’re all adults. I’d be more worried about a serious, uncurable disease that is preventable, than a label.

  39. 39 steve
    August 8, 2008 at 16:09

    @ Lubna

    Has any viral based illness ever been cured? I know we can innoculate people, but once they have something, has a viral disease ever been cured?

  40. 40 jcheburet2002
    August 8, 2008 at 16:16

    I am convinced that more investment should be made in the area of prevention to keep away from the virus those who have not yet contracted the infection.
    While this is done, proper care and support should be given to those living with the virus.

    But, condomising the prevention of HIV doesn’t work.

    Think about this:-
    If at the end of a sexual encounter where you have used a condom, your partner tells you he/she has to take ARVs. How will you feel?
    And, if before sexual intercouse your partner tell you that he/she has to take ARVs first before you continue. What will you do?

    Think about it!

  41. 41 gary
    August 8, 2008 at 16:50

    @ Shaun in Halifax

    Yes! If you couple these with the average university researcher’s need to generate papers to get tenure along with the inate human desire to solve puzzles regardless of whether anyone can make use of the solutions, priority assignments in medical research are pretty much explained. As an old researcher I’ve found it hard for the inquistive types to correctly sort out the “What can be known?” / “What do you need to know?” / “What can you afford to know?” conundrum.

  42. 42 Mohammed Ali
    August 8, 2008 at 16:52

    “Yes. Certain PC elements tend to focus on certain illness. Not to say AIDS research shouldn’t be funded, but there are more serious diseases, and HIV is entirely preventable as well. Even certain types of cancers get more funding and media attention than others. Breast cancer vs. Prostate cancer. No comparison in funding.”

    You could be right but taking into consideration the stigma associated with AIDS, it deserves the publicity and monies spent on it.

  43. 43 steve
    August 8, 2008 at 16:55

    @ Mohammed Ali

    Nobody says that AIDS doesn’t deserve money and research, but does it deserve the level it gets when there are more serious, not as preventable illnesses out there? Also, stigma is a “word” and a stigma can’t kill you.

  44. 44 Jens
    August 8, 2008 at 17:02

    Interesting contributions over all. However, what is forgoten is that HIV is a slowly developing disease and by all means probably one if not the most perfect virus in terms of spreading, since it has a slow onset and a slow rate to develop to full blown AIDS (DIFFERENT TERM THAN HIV, which is the name of the virus). This is in contrast to ebola (a poor virus in terms of transmission strategy),which kills fast and can therefore be relativly easily contained and dealt with. This viral disease is matched in the bacterial world by tuberculosis, which is guess what??? Slow in growth and progression. In fact ONE THIRD of the worlds population is infected with TB. However, unlike HIV one can transmit TB to another person without having to come into direct (sexual contact). Currently TB is a much lager killer than HIV. Obviously the combination of TB and HIV is deterimental, since the immune system is weak and TB can come out of it’s hidding. A further complicating fact is that TB, due to uncompleted treatment regimes is no turning into MDR and XDR TB. In my huble opinion these forms of TB will become a mauch lager issue than HIV, since we are begining to run out of treatment options. In this arena emerging pathogens will be one of the major problems for the world, especially in the context of global warming. Just think about diseases like west nile, which was unheared of in the USA 10 years ago. the problem of many of these disease are that they are vector borne (moscitos, fleas etc), which are virtually impossible to erradicate.

    just some thoughts. I personally believe than infectiouse diseases in general will cause major problems on the scale as the do in the third world, if we do not invest research funds in this topic.

  45. 45 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 17:08


    I know this is not the forum, but I really wanted to say that “blind eye, or no, the Games of the 29th Olympiad – the Opening Ceremony that is, were spectacular! In a way, the awesomeness of the Olympics Movement makes one forget that China’s record on human rights. All of which clearly need to be addressed, but the Opening Ceremony was breathtaking, I must say!

  46. 46 Kamayoyo Kelvin
    August 8, 2008 at 17:08

    Dear BBC,

    The issue of HIV/AIDS is very interesting one because its has been turned into a viable sector. I would like to mention here that the way to go about this is to engage into activities that moves us to finding the cure rather than wasting time and resources on sensitisation programmes that have already proved ineffective in halting the escalation of the disease particular here in Africa. So please my earnest appeal to Bill Gates and most likely Barrack Obama once elected is that they should invest in research that will rapidly lead to discovering the cure.


    Kelvin Kamayoyo

  47. 47 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 8, 2008 at 17:13

    Truth is, it is precisely because HIV is preventable why the word needs to be put on with intensity on that one. If we can prevent AIDS then we are to arm people with as much information as possible, to how they might do this. What is certain is that AIDS research takes up significant chunks of research resources.

    As a graduate student/ teacher, I have seen where work (I regret to say, not as intensive as others) on AIDS get more attention and more funding. There is one simple reason why that is, the impacts of this disease are mind boggling in terms of the lost capacity for those who contract it and how that impacts a state’s ability to develop itself and create wealth, as a result!

  48. 48 Jens
    August 8, 2008 at 17:18


    Luckily many of the viral disease are A) preventable and B) self-limiting.

    BUT, I am not sure I have heared of any specific cure. The problem is that viruses have completly different structure than bacteria. Many virusis have extremly small and a rapidly mutating genom. The flu virus has only 11 genes, and a genetic turnover that is unbelievable. There have been some “cures” like amantedine for the flue, but the problem is that the target protein (viral proton pump) due to mutations in the gene does not respond to the drug anymore. the same is already happening in case of tamiflu, which is an inhibitor of the viral neuraminidase, which is required for viral release from the infected human cell. in fact we alreadt have tamifle resistant H1N5 strains.

    one saving grace in terms of rapid mutations was in the case of SARS, where the virus circulates normaly in wild bats in china, became infectiouse to humans and mutated, losing it’s ability to infect humans as rapidly as it gained it.
    in short, viral infections will be entertaing us for a long time.

  49. August 8, 2008 at 17:29

    My dearest Steve : Hi… What you’re saying is pretty interesting… You know, there’re simple viral infections which are totally curable, just like common cold virus, influenza C viruses, rota and entero viruses… Also there’re other rather serious viral infections which are also totally curable, like mumps virus, Rubella virus, and measles virus, ect., ect.,… But in case of AIDS virus, here the period of communicability unfortunately lasts for life… So once you get infected with the virus, you remain infective for the rest of your life… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  50. 50 steve
    August 8, 2008 at 17:33

    @ Lubna

    I’m referring to actually curing someone already infected, rather than vaccinating people. I believe if you get M M or R you’re stuck with it. But you get vaccinated for it, to try to prevent it, but I tink with any virus, once you’ve got it, it can’t be cured. With the cold, you can reduce the severity of it, but it goes away on its own.

    We build up immunities to these things. Ie, you get chicken pox as a child, and hopefully you never get it again. Adults that never had chicken pox as children have a more serious time with chicken pox as adults.

  51. 51 Andrew
    August 8, 2008 at 17:58

    Perhaps it sounds callous, but we must face the fact that for the most part HIV/AIDS is a disease that is entirely preventable. On the other hand you can unknowingly contract TB just by sitting next to an infected individual. HIV is a serious threat to the population but we should not favour HIV at the expense of other serious diseases such as TB or malaria. These pose a greater health threat as in the case of malaria more people die from this worldwide than from HIV/AIDS and it is also a debilitating disease. We do tend to lose sight of the bigger picture for those causes which are more fashionable or have a higher profile. The fact that TB or malaria is not a disease common in western society and no high profile players have recently contracted these diseases, then HIV wins from a higher profile.

  52. 52 viola
    August 8, 2008 at 18:07

    I don’t think researchers are ignoring other diseases in favor of AIDS, though perhaps the resource providers are. It’s absolutely true that it’s never wise to pay so much attention to one danger that you ignore the one lurking in the bushes. AIDS is the result of a viral infection that disables the human immune system, so that someone with tuberculosis, malaria, or any other serious disease who gets infected by the HIV is even more endangered. Researchers know that.

  53. 53 Jens
    August 8, 2008 at 18:27


    TB will become a major problem for the western world. The question is not “if”, the question is “when”.

  54. August 8, 2008 at 18:29

    My dearest Steve : Hi again… I guess that we’re both misunderstanding each other here my good friend… What I was trying to say in my earlier comment is that the viruses of common cold, influenza C, rota and entero, chicken pox, mumps, measles, rubella, ect., ect., do not stay in your body forever after getting infected with them i.e. there comes a point during the course of illness when the virus sheds out of your body… So you never get to hear of someone who’s got infected with mumps or rota viruses and remained ill forever eh ?! And there’s also another thing, all of the viruses that I mentioned above don’t have a period of latency, while AIDS virus does have a period of latency, and once it gets access into your body, it’ll remain there forever, and there lies its lethality… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  55. August 8, 2008 at 18:29

    AIDS is such a serious problem it can hardly be underestimated. In Africa AIDS looks certain to delay any escape from poverty by laying waste to the potentially most productive segment of society who should be getting an education and be planning a long working life. Instead, working age people in both urban and rural settings are falling sick and dying in horrifying numbers, and when they survive, they , in many cases become a burden (financial etc) to the families who looked forward to receiving their financial assistance. Stigmatisation prevents many form maximising their career potential (some companies in Nigeria do blood tests pre-employment and even the US embassy will exclude you from the DV program if you are HIV positive).
    AIDS (as opposed to HIV) complicates all our regular tropical diseases like malaria, and TB and pneumonia are major killers for those with severely compromised immune systems. Education on prevention (without the moralising, thank you) still has not penetrated far enough and there are significant numbers of people here in Nigeria who still think AIDS is some foreign scam designed to tarnish Africa’s reputation, and those who simply don’t believe it exists. Of course the President of The Gambia has “invented” a “cure” for it. There are significant numbers still being infected by unchecked blood transfusions and from their mothers at birth etc. It is not all about sex and the condom. Look at all those teenagers in South Africa being ceremonially circumcised by traditional doctors with the same unsterilised instrument!
    Too many people have yet so much to learn about prevention and management of the HIV condition and AIDS, and I think until the drugs get much better and cheaper, and until the science has a firm grip on the workings of this virus, money will still be required in large volumes.

  56. 56 Shaun in Halifax
    August 8, 2008 at 18:30

    @ Gary

    So that’s how decisions are made in the Real World, eh? Doesn’t exactly leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling for the future of medical research.

    I have another thought: Does it really make sense for drug companies to find cures? If you have a cure that costs $150 a shot, that’s a finite set of the population and your cash stream will dry up. Whereas if you have a treatment that may only cost $10, but needs to be taken every 3 months for the rest of the person’s life that’s a huge cash cow. Profits soar, investment booms, dividends galore and everybody in the company is happy. So in light of this possibility do you think there ever will be cures or only treatments?

  57. 57 Maria
    August 8, 2008 at 18:31

    The AIDS advocate is being incredibly disingenuous. He knows it’s quite unrealistic to move to a system where health care is free for all. In the current context of limited funds, AIDS funding competes with funding for other diseases (and for other social policies for that matter). Saying that he wishes the world were different is avoiding the question: resources are limited. Should we be directing them to AIDS or to other diseases? if they should go to AIDS, why?

  58. 58 Paul in New York
    August 8, 2008 at 18:38

    Aids stands to udderly destabilize the entire region, no other health issue threatens to cause such devastation, whether economic political or human. In Botswana for example, the nation with the highest infection rate, companies cannot afford to continue as workers keep dying. Advocacy for other diseases should not think of AIDS funding as a drain on their efforts, they should see it as help and an example of how to movilize support.

  59. 59 Keith
    August 8, 2008 at 18:41

    My honest opinion is that as far as viruses go, AIDS SHOULD be preventable. It is not airborne as other harmful diseases are, and the vast majority of infections could easily have been avoidable. Although a cure would be nice, I think the real solution has to be knowledge and prevention. If people understood the risks, and cared enough to put the necessary effort into protecting themselves, they would have a significantly improved chance of avoiding the virus. It’s taboo, I know, but it’s true.

  60. 60 Paul in New York
    August 8, 2008 at 18:42

    Without the AIDS drive there would not be such funding. It is not as though this money comes from a general health fund, it is raised for AIDS. Without such a cause there would simply be no funding. Even less for other diseases.

  61. 61 Harry Magnani
    August 8, 2008 at 18:44

    The biggest problem with comparing aids and diseases such as malaria, bilharzia, trypanosomiasis liver fluke, trachoma and not TB is that aids was initially seen as a disease that could attack prominent people in rich countries while all the other diseases affect people in poor countries. With the initial lobbies for aids by film stars etc. in California it was brought to peoples attention far more strongly and persuasively than the other diseases so the money poured in with the result that life expectancy has increased enormously with the advent of suitable drugs. However how long did it take to provide these drugs to the poorer countries? Only recently have drug companies agreed to provide them more cheaply. But for the other third world diseases no profit in it for the drug companies so very little research and progress in curing or prolonging life expectancy for the sufferers.

  62. 62 Harry Magnani
    August 8, 2008 at 18:45

    sorry should have been ‘and now TB’

  63. 63 steve
    August 8, 2008 at 18:52

    The caller in Brazil says that HIV gets such publicity in the US because it is closer to home than TB is. That’s a simplistic argument because cancer is INCREDIBLY common, it affects EVERY family. But certain types of cancers get more attentio than others. Breast cancer gets the most, despite it being far more easily detectable than other kids of cancer, there are other cancers that are more common, such as prostate cancer. But some people have agendas that lead some illnesses to get more attention and resulting funding than others. Some kinds of cancers are completely deadly, yet get virtually no media attention unless a celebrity gets it.

    ALCS was named after Lou Gehrig, who died from it

    Pancreatic cancer is virtually unsurvivable and Swayze has it, but even that didn’t get any pink ribbon type campaign despite it having a much higher mortality rate than breast cancer.

  64. 64 steve
    August 8, 2008 at 18:56

    I’m curious, say even if AIDS were cured, that would just enable people to be irresponsible. They will stop using condoms, and something worse than AIDS will break out.

    It’s like with gas prices. If they go down, people will forget about the need to find alternative fuel sources and will go back to driving SUVs and be wasteful.

    People quickly forget and return to being irresponsible.

  65. 65 Chris
    August 8, 2008 at 18:57

    There is currently a discussion about the ‘stigmatization’ of AIDS and that it is a negative consequence of contracting the decease. Although some of the social isolation resulting from contracting a terrible decease should be addressed, it should never become acceptable to contract AIDS. We should never allow it to become commonplace and written off in the public consciousness as a trivial condition. There is a risk of that trivialization occurring if the ‘stigma’ is assaulted in a general way.

  66. 66 Aids-nigeria
    August 8, 2008 at 18:59

    The answer is NO. Agreed that AIDS is the world’s fourth leading cause of death, but continues to impart more on individuals, family and community . We all know that they is depressed immunity which make Persons living with HIV to be susceptible to HIV/AIDS.

    Compared to other diseases such has malaria and TB, HIV has no cure as yet, researches are still on going.

    I do not agree that too much funds have been channeled to HIV, in fact the level of funding is grossly inadequate for my experience in working in an HIV/AIDS Clinic.

    Hence _Care and Support of Persons With HIV AIDS is Our Collective Responsibility.

  67. 67 Andrew
    August 8, 2008 at 19:01


    Oh I agree completely with you. That’s the terrible reality of something like TB. My grandmother died from TB. The problem is that unlike you or I, those with some influence seem to feel that it wont be a problem for us. OK it is becoming a time bomb when you think about say, Russian prisons, and from time to time there are news reports on this highlighting the problems there, but you can’t help but feel that we are ignoring an upcoming TB explosion either through ignorance or deliberately and focussing on other issues. Something like TB can spread with incredible speed across the globe, but the will to put more into combatting TB hasn’t shown itself. It will though, when it will be too late. As the spread of SARS showed when it jumped to Canada a few years back, what might seem inconsequential and affecting some chicken farmers in the fields of Vietnam or Indonesia can very quickly throw a major western city into turmoil.

  68. 68 Stefani
    August 8, 2008 at 19:19

    It seems strange to me that so little attention is paid to the prevention of AIDS through a moral lifestyle (no sex before/outside marriage, no drug use) when this would drastically reduce the spread of the disease. So many of the other diseases discussed here are not so easily prevented!

  69. 69 John in Salem
    August 8, 2008 at 19:25

    A little perspective here… TB and malaria have been with us for thousands of years. HIV is new, the freshly infected show no visible signs and the virus is able to mutate itself to each individual it infects.
    I’m seeing a tendency to minimize the threat of HIV here, and it’s being done without a real understanding yet of how serious that threat might turn out to be.
    We don’t know the limitations of it’s ability to mutate or even if there ARE limitations. If this thing were able to become airborne it would dwarf anything our species has ever faced and the fact is, WE DON’T KNOW THAT IT CAN’T!

  70. August 8, 2008 at 19:28

    @ Steve,

    You say, “ALCS was named after Lou Gehrig, who died from it.”

    ALS, that is, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis… is also called Lou Gherig’s disease because ey-mahy-uh-trof-ik is difficult to say. My sister died from it.

  71. 71 Bryan
    August 8, 2008 at 19:59

    steve August 8, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    “We need to stop the PC talk.”

    “Time to stop enabling poor behavior.”

    Agreed. If Western societies could ever rid themselves of the political correctness imposed on them by the social engineers of the left it would be a great weight lifted from this planet.

    Unfortunately they have done a thorough job and the rot has set in way too deep.

  72. 72 Roberto
    August 8, 2008 at 20:19

    Or does AIDS actually need more funding to educate people and remove the stigma?

    —— I’m coming to the conclusion that many if not most in this world largely uneducable. No truly educated peoples could create the global smorgasbord of problems the world suffers from.

    Many can be brainwashed into regurgitating some arbitrary facts without context for pay. Whomever remains iare mainly responsive to rumour and hearsay though they can often be taught how to count using their fingers and the ABCs of a limited vocabulary.

    The AIDS stigma is probably permanant since there is a strong instinct from tens of thousands of years of human development to stay away from diseased persons. Self preservation 101.

    It doesn’t help that the disease could easily be controlled by basic well known behaviors. Too many are largely ungovernable as well as being uneducable, often a fatal combination.

  73. 73 steve
    August 8, 2008 at 20:29

    In the west, the really is no excuse for HIV. You get it from irresponsibility or the irresponsiblity of other people (blood transfusions). I still believe even elsewhere, that unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, you know that having sex with multiple people and with no condoms is dangerous.

  74. 74 Jens
    August 8, 2008 at 21:02


    it was bats

  75. 75 graceunderfire
    August 8, 2008 at 21:22

    Face it. Only three things cause infection with the HIV virus; ignorance, dishonesty or poor judgment. The ignorant should be educated. The dishonest should be punished. The unwise should face the the consequences of their poor judgment. Throwing bucks at a cure, when no other viral disease has ever been cured, is poor economy and bad disease control practice. Getting well ahead of the infection curve through aggressive education, and swift prosecution of those who knowingly infect others are the best courses of action. Stopping the spread of HIV isn’t rocket science.

  76. 76 fromtheworldofdennis
    August 8, 2008 at 23:13

    I hope that the AIDS has not hijacked the world health agenda…we need to put the resources to fight this disease.

  77. 77 Jennifer
    August 9, 2008 at 16:33

    AIDS has not hijacked the world’s health agenda. I think it deserves all of the attention it receives and then some. It affects everyone-from people who actually have it to their families, and all of society. Anyone with AIDS should have access to appropriate treatment and medical care. We need to stop believing the mentality of “it won’t happen to me” and press prevention through education.

    AIDS is not just a homosexual disease; or only contracted by being reckless. It’s out there for anyone if they are not careful. The only way that someone can protect themselves is to be educated and taken that education and use it! I think as a society we tend to wait for a problem to happen as opposed to preventing it. That needs to change. In creating an atmosphere where people are educated about AIDS it would create a ripple effect by also promoting good health with regards to other illnesses like TB and Malaria.

    People who live in poverty are not focused on education. They are too busy trying to ensure that their basic needs are being met to consider anything other than what is immediate-food, clothing, shelter. There is no excuse for anyone to do without in a world where we have so much.

  78. 78 parth guragain
    August 10, 2008 at 13:15

    what i think that aids have not hijacked other health issue.

  79. 79 Des Currie
    August 10, 2008 at 18:22

    Aids is a similar condition to shooting yourself in the foot.
    Too bad. Don’t make it an issue of mine, neither the foot nor the infection.
    Des Currie

  80. 80 Stefani
    August 11, 2008 at 05:55

    You said:

    “AIDS is not just a homosexual disease; or only contracted by being reckless. It’s out there for anyone if they are not careful. The only way that someone can protect themselves is to be educated and taken that education and use it!”

    Can you define that education? True, the wife with the cheating husband (or the other way around) is not the one acting recklessly, but it is the reckless acts of the other who brings it home to her (or him) and the children.

    It is my understanding that condoms are not 100% reliable for protection. Is this not so? Does teaching abstinance until (monogamous) marriage fit in much of the AIDS education?

    Again I say, is not AIDS so much more preventable than the other diseases being discussed?

  81. 81 Jennifer
    August 11, 2008 at 15:09


    I believe that education should come from schools and family-mainly parents. I think that abstinence should be discussed because it is the only 100% way to prevent the spread of disease and pregnancy. However, I also believe that it is only rational for other types of education to be discussed including safe sex practices, touching IV needles used by someone who is HIV+, or etc because the chances of someone remaining abstinent are not very high here.

    Peer pressure during high school and college can sway one’s personal convictions no matter how determined someone may be to consider the risks of contracting AIDS. I remember when I was in high school it was always the science teacher that had the obligation to provide the Sex/AIDS education to the students. It was in many ways a waste of time because it was the same material over and over and not always current. It was not really so much as giving education and providing knowledge but just something to get through. Then, there were the few who did not attend because their parents refused to sign the consent forms. And, there were those who didn’t listen because they just knew everything.

    Even when a person had education, it can be hard to consider the risks of certain things when you really like someone. In my opinion, here in the U.S., most young people are not concerned with diseases that much just having fun. They think that as long as someone looks healthy it’s ok or they believe their significant other when they say they have always used protection in the past.

    With regards to a spouse cheating and passing AIDS to his s/o I think that he is responsible for his actions. The wife has contracted it through no fault of her own. There is no way to prevent cheating from occurring. At least if the man had used protection, he would have had less of a chance of contracting AIDS and taking it back to his wife, right?

    Is AIDS much more preventable than other diseases being discussed?

    However, just because it’s preventable does not mean that it is not a serious problem that we have the responsibility to deal with as a society. It won’t just go away if we ignore it. Just because someone contracts it by being reckless doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t receive medical care and support from society.

  82. 82 Shakhoor Rehman
    August 12, 2008 at 22:11

    When it comes to Health robbing Peter to pay Paul is always wrong. Adequate funding for curing all diseases worldwide is the only answer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: