The head of the World Health Organization’s HIV/AIDS department has officially admitted for the first time that there will be no global epidemic of the disease among the heterosexual population outside Africa, The Independent reported.
Kevin de Cock said global prevention strategies to address AIDS as a risk to all populations, among the WHO and major AIDS organizations, may have been misdirected. It is now recognized that, with the exception of sub-Saharan African, it is confined to high-risk groups.
These groups include men who have sex with other men, drug users who inject with needles, and sex workers and their clients, The Independent reported.
“It is very unlikely there will be a heterosexual epidemic in other countries,” de Cock is quoted in The Independent. “Ten years ago a lot of people were saying there would be a generalized epidemic in Asia — China was the big worry with its huge population. That doesn't look likely. But we have to be careful. As an epidemiologist it is better to describe what we can measure. There could be small outbreaks in some areas.”
However, AIDS still kills more adults than all wars, and is winning against current efforts to address it, The Independent reported. A WHO/U.N. AIDS report published in June shows less than a third of people in developing countries who need anti-retroviral drugs are receiving them. There were 33 million people living with HIV in 2007.
Some AIDS organizations, including the WHO, U.N. AIDS and the Global Fund have been blasted for inflating estimates of the number of people infected, taking much-needed funds from other diseases like malaria, spending it on the wrong efforts such as abstinence programs rather than condoms.
One result of the WHO’s admission may be that the vast sums of money spent on AIDS education for people who are not at risk may now be concentrated on high-risk groups.