On AIDS: Three Lessons From Africa

The New York Times - The Opinionator, Fixes | August 1, 2014

By Tina Rosenburg

Fixes explores solutions to major social problems. Each week, it examines creative initiatives that can tell us about the difference between success and failure.

An AIDS fable: Once upon a time, in the years after AIDS went from being a death sentence to a manageable disease, at least for people rich enough to take antiretroviral therapy, many of the people who ran the world believed that these medicines weren’t appropriate for residents of very poor countries. Even leaving aside the cost, they thought that poor people couldn’t take their medicines on time...

...Doubling the number of places with access to AIDS medicine helped everyone. “By rapidly decentralizing antiretroviral therapy to do Option B+, you’ve made it available to communities everywhere,” said R. J. Simonds, vice president of program innovation and policy at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which works in 15 countries to prevent mother-to-child transmission of H.I.V....

...Option B+ will also leave fewer children orphaned. Evidence is increasing that starting people on antiretroviral therapy as soon as they are diagnosed — called test and treat (PDF) — improves health. “This is going to be the leading edge to test and treat,” Simonds said. “And Malawi just did it. They were unique in bucking the World Health Organization and coming up with this strategy — and it’s now the strategy.”

Read the full article, at the New York Times, Opinionator.