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‘Getting To Zero’ Rhetoric Might Harm HIV/AIDS Efforts

Inter Press Service: Getting to Zero — Good Intentions Coming to Naught?
Pierre Brouard, director of the Centre for the Study of AIDS at the University of Pretoria, South Africa

“…[T]he recent rallying cry ‘getting to zero,’ that is, zero new HIV infections, zero HIV-related discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths … seems to be an exciting challenge and possibly a useful indicator of success. But is it possible that these goals are setting us up to fail and reflect a misunderstanding of such a complex epidemic as AIDS? … Targets are important, but there is a danger that the zero language closes the door on nuance and complexity, risking blame and othering of those who fail to comply with well-intended public health injunctions. … So instead of trying to ‘get to zero,’ we need to aim for a deeper understanding of the social and structural underpinnings of AIDS, and question the unintended consequences of our programmatic language” (7/17).