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HIV did not have to become a global pandemic. While some prevention programs have been creative, well targeted and effective, many large international initiatives have been tragically misguided or myopic.
Male circumcision, the rights of HIV-positive women to terminate unwanted pregnancies, standards of care in different regions…every aspect of prevention, from condoms to vaccines, is colored with social, religious, economic or political implications. Everywhere there are double standards: people get different advice and information depending on who they are. AIDS-Free World looks carefully at the myths, realities and possibilities of prevention, including the complicated concept of behavior change.
We push for research geared towards prevention methods, such as vaginal gels (microbicides), that women can control. We demystify the jargon of funding: for instance, what is the difference between a commitment and an actual delivery of cash that buys a good or service?
In rich countries, HIV-positive pregnant women can now be almost 99% certain that their babies will be protected from contracting the virus. In poorer nations, very few women have this assurance. Despite evidence that the drug regimen most widely used in developing countries to prevent transmission to newborns actually imperils women’s lives, and puts babies at risk, too, it is still used – without women’s informed consent. Worse, countries that still use the outmoded regimen get A’s for effort from the UN.
We help demystify phrases such as “treatment as prevention” and “concurrent partners.” We push for prevention campaigns free of hypocrisy, sexism and shortsightedness, and speak out when people and organizations that should be engaged in prevention fail to do their jobs.