UNAIDS myths on AIDS pandemic costing billions – new report
NEW YORK, USA, July 2, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The UN’s specialist AIDS advocacy body - has systematically misrepresented the true nature of the AIDS pandemic, resulting in billions of dollars of wasted spending, according to a new report from the Campaign for Fighting Diseases.
According to report author Professor James Chin, UNAIDS has exaggerated the size and trend of the AIDS pandemic, and has over-hyped the potential for HIV in ‘general’ heterosexual populations outside of sub Saharan Africa.
Prof Chin was the epidemiologist who helped the World Health Organization design global AIDS surveillance methods in the 1980s, and is one of the world’s leading experts on the pandemic.
His report accuses UNAIDS of misleading the public by promoting the myth that everyone in the world is at risk from the pandemic. Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, extensive HIV transmission in heterosexual populations has not occurred, except in large commercial sex networks.
As a result this advocacy, some $5bn have been wasted since 2003 on providing prevention programmes for populations at almost no risk of HIV, such as school children and youth outside of sub-Saharan Africa. This figure now stands at $1bn per year and increasing.
These sums could be more usefully spent on targeting prevention programmes at those most at risk of HIV, including injecting drug users, gay men, and sex workers; or on trying to prevent the annual four million child deaths from easily preventable diseases such as measles.
Prof Chin stated: “UNAIDS is apparently concerned that support to AIDS programs might be reduced if HIV remains concentrated in the highest HIV-risk populations. UNAIDS continues to perpetuate the myth of “generalized” HIV epidemics to keep AIDS high on the political agenda, but it is resulting in billions of dollars of misdirected spending.”
Jim Chin is clinical professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley.
SOURCE : United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)