Enhancing HIV prevention requires addressing the complex relationship between prevention and treatment Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Globally each year, HIV continues to infect millions of people, and the number of people living with HIV and AIDS grows. While there has been an increase in funding for HIV and AIDS, there is a growing gap between the funds available and the funds needed for both prevention and treatment. Yet, one of the means of closing that gap - preventing new infections - has slipped down the agenda. In arguing for a significant intensification of the HIV prevention response, and the relevance of a strong social stance within this response, this paper addresses the need to manage finding a balance between prevention and treatment and care. Not only is there not enough being spent on HIV prevention, but also in some instances, the prevention agenda has been hijacked by those who favour morally conservative, but ineffective, HIV prevention strategies. We argue that effective prevention needs to be firmly located within the everyday realities affecting communities and societies, and needs to focus on what is known to work. In particular, we need to move beyond a public health underpinned by neo-liberal notions of agency and individual responsibility to a public health that recognises the collective nature of epidemics, and works with communities and networks to transform social relations. This latter, more 'social' public health, is concerned with the social, political and economic factors that produce HIV risk and responses to it. Contrary to what some might suggest, HIV prevention has not failed, rather, governments and donors have failed HIV prevention.

publication date

  • March 2009