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_Media Reports of the Barcelona AIDS Conference

 

      The XIV International AIDS Conference, which concluded on Friday in Barcelona, Spain, generated a large amount of reaction from media outlets around the world. Summaries of some editorials and opinion pieces appear below, listed in alphabetical order:

Editorials

* Akron Beacon Journal: "After two decades, the disastrous impact of HIV/AIDS is becoming evident," a Beacon Journal editorial states, noting that "no government can plead lack of knowledge or understanding of HIV/AIDS and its national and global impact." The conference has "pulled the alarm bells," the editorial says, concluding, "What is lacking is a comprehensive plan of assistance and the commitment to follow it through" (Akron Beacon Journal, 7/12).

* Arizona Daily Star: "Given the extent of the [HIV/AIDS] problem, and the relative simplicity of the solutions, it is disappointing that the United States does not provide anywhere near its fair share of international aid to fight AIDS," the Daily Star states. The editorial notes that the United States is "not alone in that reluctance," but it adds that there is "no excuse for not saving lives and protecting families when this country has both the opportunity and the resources" (Arizona Daily Star, 7/8).

* Albany Times Union: This year's conference in Barcelona created a "sense of urgency" about a pandemic that "still isn't battled aggressively enough," a Times Union editorial states. Noting the high rate of new HIV/AIDS infections among young women in nations where rape and payment for sex are "so common," the Times Union states that it is "time to find more ways and better ways for women to protect themselves without relying on men to use condoms." The editorial recommends more research into microbicides and the potential use of diaphragms to prevent HIV transmission, as well as increased access to female condoms, concluding, "Indifference to AIDS can't be allowed to become the latest form of aggression toward women" (Albany Times Union, 7/15).

* Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Advances in HIV/AIDS treatment have led to "complacency" among Americans, and now the United States must "redouble its efforts" to fight the AIDS epidemic at home and abroad, a Journal-Constitution editorial states. The editorial concludes that the United States can choose to "pay a lot now, or ... pay a whole lot more -- in terms of money and global instability -- later" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/14).

* Bangkok Post: "AIDS is partly contained," a Post editorial states, noting Thailand's success in combatting the disease. However, it is still "crucial" to continue the battle," the Post states, concluding, "Participants at the Barcelona conference have the means to turn the tide. It will take massive education. It will require pushing aside the brutally closed-minded rulers in places like Burma and South Africa. And it will take money" (Bangkok Post, 7/8).

* Bergen Record: "There is only one way to fight the AIDS epidemic with any hope of winning, and that is on a global scale," a Record editorial states, adding that the "world's nations, including the United States, must lead the way and be more generous." Noting that a vaccine does not appear forthcoming in the new future, the editorial concludes, "Much progress has been made, but at this point, the disease is winning" (Bergen Record, 7/11).

* Chicago Sun-Times: Findings announced last week that a "shockingly large percentage" of gay American men are HIV-positive and that 91% of African-American, HIV-positive men do not know they are infected reveal that "all the money and time spent on advertising the importance of using condoms ... and the need for testing have been as good as wasted," a Sun-Times editorial states. The editorial concludes, "If people don't value their health enough to take the proper precautions to protect themselves, why should we care whether they invite harm upon their bodies?" (Chicago Sun-Times, 7/14).

* Denver Post: The U.S. government and other industrialized nations must "put stigma and discrimination aside and take the AIDS epidemic seriously by funding prevention, treatment and education with the same zeal applied to other issues -- issues that pale in comparison to the threat AIDS poses to human lives," a Post editorial says, adding that a "united front, with the dollars to back it up, should be a global priority" (Denver Post, 7/8).

* Des Moines Register: "Governments must commit to educating the young" about HIV/AIDS, a Register editorial says, adding that humanitarian, international and religious groups, "regardless of ideology, must agree on a plan." The Register states that abstinence is the "best choice" for HIV prevention, but it adds that "proper condom use has to be a focus as well." The editorial concludes, "Reaching out to the young with knowledge and resources is crucial. It will take a global commitment to save a generation" (Des Moines Register, 7/11).

* Economist: Countries with an HIV/AIDS epidemic need to "own up to the scale of the problem" and spend wisely to reduce the spread of the disease, and rich countries should continue to donate to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an Economist editorial states. While the United States' contribution to the fund is "roughly in line with its share of its GDP," America should give more because other countries "align their contribution with the American benchmark," the editorial says, concluding, "If America gave more, the rest would probably follow" (Economist, 7/13).

* Honolulu Advertiser: "For the Asia-Pacific region, [HIV/AIDS] is more than a humanitarian issue. ... It is also a security issue," an Advertiser editorial states, noting the "potential for mass numbers of AIDS cases in populous China, Indonesia and India." The editorial concludes that Hawaii "can expect to play a significant role" in U.S. HIV/AIDS policy as "world attention shifts to the AIDS problem in Asia" because of the state's location, military bases and medical facilities (Honolulu Advertiser, 7/9).

* Houston Chronicle: Given that "cultural biases against women contribute to the spread of AIDS" in developing countries, the epidemic will only be stopped by "improving women's access to preventive drugs in pregnancy, providing affordable condoms and birth control and aiming educational programs specifically at women," a Chronicle editorial states. The development of vaginal microbicides that would give women a "tool to protect themselves" could also help stem the spread of HIV/AIDS. The editorial concludes, however, that the "real key" to stopping HIV infection "lies in making fundamental social changes that will enhance the status of women so that they can protect themselves and their children" (Houston Chronicle, 7/13).

* Thailand Nation: "After two decades of the [HIV/AIDS] epidemic and with several million deaths and numerous conferences, it is discouraging that we still talk about the same problems and the fact that the situation is not getting any better," an editorial in Thailand's Nation states. "Countries, developed or developing, must ask themselves what more they can do in order to show their responsibility in the fight against AIDS," it concludes (Thailand Nation, 7/10).

* Philadelphia Inquirer: In order to fight the worldwide HIV/AIDS pandemic, drug therapies that treat AIDS need to be "more available and affordable in Africa," education efforts need to be created and expanded and African governments "must see the disease as a women's rights issue," the Inquirer states in an editorial. But these efforts require money, and the United States' contribution of $1 billion over the next three years, while "a beginning," is a "tiny contribution compared with the size of the problem and the size of our wealth." The editorial concludes, "America must do more" (Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/13).

* San Jose Mercury News: "The sense of urgency that once surrounded the fight against AIDS in this country has diminished," a Mercury News editorial states, adding that it because, as several studies released at last week's conference demonstrate, the disease is "still a mystery to too many people." The Mercury News concludes, "We must overcome our squeamishness about sex and our contempt of drug users and educate everyone over the age of five about the nature of this threat. Our habitual complacency and prudishness puts us all in the high-risk group" (San Jose Mercury News, 7/10).

* St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Trying to understand the AIDS epidemic's global implications is like trying to grab a fistful of mercury," the Post-Dispatch says, stating, "We have never had better tools with which to treat AIDS patients or strategies to stop the virus' spread. But political reluctance to spend enough money to pursue those strategies means that we could soon confront a pandemic of even greater magnitude." The Post-Dispatch states that slowing the spread of the disease will mean "embracing straightforward, low-tech strategies such as condom distribution and needle exchange, two measures the Bush administration seems disinclined to pursue." It will "not be easy or cheap," the editorial concludes, "But it will never be easier, cheaper or more likely to succeed than it is today" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 7/11).

* Winnipeg Free Press: "The Barcelona conference offered mostly bad news and little hope," a Winnipeg Free Press editorial states, noting that although the conference was "designed as a forum where medical research could be shared and the battle against AIDS coordinated, the ... conference can seem like little more than an opportunity to try to make wealthy western nations feel guilty about not doing enough" to fight the disease. "That may be a useful purpose in itself, if it adds money to the anti-AIDS war chest," the editorial states, but it "should not ... distract governments that are asked to foot this bill from recognizing certain harsh realities" about the disease, such as that HIV/AIDS is "not the only, or even the greatest, killer disease in the world." The editorial states that any money directed toward fighting the disease should be directed toward prevention. Although cheaper medicines and vaccines may eventually become available and are "goal[s] worth pursuing," prevention is "attainable now if the will and the way are made available," the editorial concludes (Winnipeg Free Press, 7/12).

Opinion Pieces

* Chinua Akukwe and Melvin Foote, All Africa: Certain aspects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa have not changed and may never change, Chinua Akukwe, a member of the Board of Directors of the Constituency for Africa, and Melvin Foote, president and CEO of the Constituency, write in an All Africa opinion piece. According to the authors, these factors include the following: Africans will not have access to antiretroviral drugs; rich nations will earmark their money to save specific populations such as pregnant women; African government will have "very little impact" on fighting the epidemic; inadequate funding for disease treatment will not go away; preventive efforts will continue to be a "major challenge"; and HIV's socioeconomic underpinnings, such as poverty, will not cease in Africa (Akukwe/Foote, All Africa, 7/12).

* Cheick Oumar Diarrah and Catherine Rielly, Boston Globe: "For the past 20 years, bad leadership has failed to ... provide adequate information on HIV/AIDS," but that situation is changing as leaders confront the epidemic, Diarrah, Mali's ambassador to the United States, and Rielly, a consultant to the United Nations on HIV/AIDS issues, write in a Globe opinion piece. The New Partnership for Africa's Development is a welcome change and may bring about a "new political culture [that] may save more Africans from dying of AIDS than medical science," they write. Diarrah and Rielly conclude, "New leadership committed to democratic triple therapy -- civil society participation, poverty reduction and gender equity -- could prove the latest predictions of death from HIV/AIDS wrong for the first time" (Diarrah/Rielly, Boston Globe, 7/10).

* Scott Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times: In the midst of "all the optimism" last week about new HIV/AIDS treatments, it is important to keep in mind that "[l]ife on today's antiretroviral therapy is anything but normal," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a staff writer for the BMJ, writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. The drugs have "awful side effects" that include nausea, weakness and "long-term complications," Gottlieb states, concluding that doctors must be sensitive to the fact that "patients suffer not only from their disease but also from the treatment" (Gottlieb, Los Angeles Times, 7/14).

* Dr. Chayla Lar, Baltimore Sun: "Women's lack of power is a significant factor in Africa's AIDS crisis," Lar, the HIV/AIDS program specialist for the Christian organization World Vision, writes in a Sun opinion piece. Uganda's success against HIV infection shows that African women are not "helpless" -- many women are choosing abstinence, virginity or monogamy, Lar states. She concludes that more money is needed to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa but that long-term solutions "must be rooted in communities and, specifically, women in communities" (Lar, Baltimore Sun, 7/11).

* Gail Schoettler, Denver Post: Although it is taboo to discuss risky behavior and safe sex techniques in American schools, "we must get beyond this," Gail Schoettler, a former U.S. ambassador, Colorado lieutenant governor and Colorado treasurer, writes in an opinion piece. She proposes that the CDC create school programs to teach children about AIDS "before they become sexually active," community-based programs to educate children who are not in school and more treatment options for individuals with sexually transmitted diseases. Schoettler concludes that children "need to know how to protect themselves" and that the "time has come to provide full and useful information" (Schoettler, Denver Post, 7/14).

* Cynthia Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Tucker, an editorial page editor for the Journal-Constitution, states that although HIV/AIDS is "wreaking more havoc on black Americans than racial profiling, assaults on affirmative action or Republicans in the White House," it receives far less attention than those other issues. HIV is spreading among gay black men, but the stigma attached to homosexuality in the black community keeps men from getting tested or being open with their sexuality, Tucker states. She concludes, "As long as black homosexuality lives in the shadows and denial hovers in the air, HIV will continue to stalk black Americans, guaranteeing countless black men and women early graves" (Tucker, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 7/10).


 



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