Sidibe Calls For A ‘Prevention Revolution’ To Fight HIV/AIDS

UNAIDS head Michel Sidibe on Monday called for a “prevention revolution” to fight HIV/AIDS and addressed laws he says make high-risk groups more vulnerable to the disease, the Associated Press reports. Speaking to a group of journalists in New York, Sidibe “said ‘it is unacceptable’ that 85 countries still have laws criminalizing same sex relations among adults, including seven that impose the death penalty for homosexual practices,” the news service writes.

“At a time when UNAIDS is scaling up its program and seeking universal access to HIV treatment,” Sibide expressed concerns that laws in some countries were keeping high-risk individuals from accessing treatment services, according to the AP (Lederer, 3/16).

Sidibe “said transmission of the HIV virus that causes AIDS can be up to 10 times greater in countries with repressive laws against homosexuality compared to more open societies,” Bloomberg/BusinessWeek reports. “We must insist that the rights of minorities are upheld. If we don’t, the epidemic will grow again,” said Sidibe. He also “wants to highlight repression of homosexuals at the International AIDS Conference scheduled for Vienna in July,” the news service reports (Varner, 3/16).

The UNAIDS head also spoke of the need to tailor prevention and treatment programs to injecting drug users (IDUs) and to tackle complacency about the disease, the AP adds (3/16). “Of 16 million people worldwide who are injecting drugs, almost three million are HIV positive, and among them fewer than 4% have access to treatment,” the U.K. Press Association reports (3/16).