April 30, 2003
MEDIA CONTACT: Trent Stockton
Global Fight Against AIDS Requires More Than Drug Cocktails
It will take more than wider access to drugs to win the fight against AIDS in countries where medical and economic resources are limited. What is needed is a combination of affordable anti-HIV drugs and an infrastructure focused on prevention and access to effective clinical care for patients infected with the virus, according to an editorial by Johns Hopkins AIDS experts appearing in the May 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The editorial is a response to remarks made by President Bush in the State of the Union address of January 2003 announcing a five-year, $15 billion emergency plan for AIDS relief to provide highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, to 2 million patients with HIV in Africa and the Caribbean.
"Such efforts are urgently needed to offer hope to the more than 24 million people infected with HIV in the developing world, but simply providing access to affordable drugs is insufficient," says Robert C. Bollinger, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and senior author of the editorial.
The editorial suggests that efforts should include other aspects of medical care that will make HAART most effective, such as training for doctors and health care workers, access to laboratory tests that are necessary for the safe use of these drugs, and incorporating HAART therapy into the primary care of patients as part of HIV-prevention, education and counseling activities.
"Failure to provide resources to develop these aspects of AIDS care and HIV prevention will undermine the public health benefit of global efforts to expand access to HAART," says Bollinger.
Other authors of the editorial are Steven J. Reynolds, M.D., John G. Bartlett, M.D., Thomas C. Quinn, M.D., and Chris Beyrer, M.D., of Johns Hopkins.
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