Lack of Political Will, Gender Bias Pose Major Hurdles in Tackling AIDS

by VR Sreeraman on  February 22, 2008 at 6:36 PM AIDS/HIV News
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Lack of Political Will, Gender Bias Pose Major Hurdles in Tackling AIDS
Lack of political will to influence attitudes, subordination of women and myths about HIV/AIDS are some of the major hurdles in curbing the spread of the disease, according to an expert.

Professor Lars Kallings, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said that the lack of adequate attention to the social and economic aspects of the pandemic is proving to be a major obstacle in the fight against epidemic

"Trust in modern science is so great that people don't like to consider the thought that it may not be possible to find a simple medical way to eradicate the virus," he said.  

"As a result, not enough attention is given to the social and economic aspects of HIV and AIDS and the fight against discrimination - factors that are vital if we are to respond to this epidemic," he added.

Professor Kallings cited that many women are not able to say no to unwanted sex or ask their husbands to use condoms or be faithful.

Even the fear of humiliation holds them from being tested or treated for the disease.

"Stigmatisation of women is another major issue, with many not daring to be tested or treated in case they are thrown out by their families, beaten or even killed," he said.

Kallings highlighted that money was no longer the main obstacle in treating the virus instead there were various political and religious barriers. 

"The main problems lie with a lack of political will to influence attitudes, implement prevention and provide care, together with a lack of healthcare infrastructure, including the drain of trained health-care workers from developing countries to the West," he said.

"Condom use is the least expensive and most cost-effective method for preventing HIV transmission.

"However this protective measure is resisted by fundamentalist groups, such as the Vatican and the religious right in the USA, and may be a difficult subject in marriage, he added.

He also held bad governance responsible for non-implementation of the measures to curb the spread of the epidemic.

"Lack of political will, bad management and lack of infrastructure in many countries are causing an implementation crisis," he said.

He suggested that AIDS and scientists and non-governmental organisations have to play a vital role in raising awareness and pushing for change.

The report appears in Journal of Internal Medicine

He said that his views expressed are as an independent scientist and not as a UN Special Envoy.

Source: ANI

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