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July 22, 2009

AIDS exceptionalism a defensible concept, says Stephen Lewis

"The idea that AIDS is an exceptional disease requiring an exceptional response is a perfectly defensible concept, Stephen Lewis, the former UN Special Envoy on AIDS in Africa told the opening session of the Fifth International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention last night in Cape Town.

"He also accused critics of the levels of AIDS funding of acting from base motives of resentment and professional envy.

"Lewis’s strong words are the first signs that leading figures in the AIDS field are preparing to make a much more aggressive defence of current levels of funding, following mounting criticisms that HIV is receiving a distorted share of global health resources, and that funding allocations are being driven by donor fashions rather than country needs. ...

"'You just can’t permit an intellectual contrivance - an argument in favour of accepting the size of the pie and slicing it differently, rather than demanding a larger pie - you can’t allow that to be used to justify a terrible reversal in public policy. People infected with HIV or at risk of infection, are suddenly tossed onto the landscape of treatment ambiguity, and the gains we’ve made and the momentum we’ve achieved are put at risk."

Read more in Aidsmap, July 20, 2009.