UCLA researcher commissions special issue of AIDS journal
With tens of thousands due to gather in Mexico City Aug. 3 for the 2008 International AIDS Conference, the journal AIDS has published a special supplement that provides concrete recommendations for addressing the complex social and economic issues that fuel HIV.
Commissioned by Thomas J. Coates, associate director of the UCLA AIDS Institute and director of UCLA's Program in Global Health, the journal articles make the case for a comprehensive approach to the AIDS epidemic that goes beyond scientific advancements to focus on gender, sexual diversity, ethnicity and other factors.
The edition outlines a plan for building a new and diverse group of leaders in the 25-year-old fight against AIDS and for better integrating treatment, care and prevention programs to combat the disease more efficiently.
"The main driving idea is to frame the discussion of leadership, equity, accountability and partnerships around concrete, actionable goals," said Coates, a professor of infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "It's time to set specific goals and hold everyone accountable for reaching them."
The special supplement, currently available online, was published with funding from the Ford Foundation's Global Initiative on HIV/AIDS and additional funding from the National Institutes of Health. It grew out of a 2007 meeting of the International AIDS Society in Australia, where Coates commissioned papers from among the attendees.
"What best characterizes this collection of articles," write Daniel Tarantola (University of New South Wales) and Sofia Gruskin (Harvard University School of Public Health) in the supplement, "is that beyond rhetoric and philosophical debates, the aim of all contributions is to suggest practical ways to move forward, in some cases through explicit recommendations, in others through directions for shaping or reshaping the environments in which the spread of HIV can be curbed and access to quality care and treatment can be made available to all who need it."
"It is increasingly clear that despite laudable advances in HIV technologies and outcomes, true success is still evasive, continually being thwarted by age-old issues such as stigma, discrimination, poverty and lack of accountability," said Jacob A. Gayle, deputy vice president of the Ford Foundation and director of the foundation's HIV/AIDS initiative, who penned the supplement's introduction. "New paradigms are needed for understanding and responding to the AIDS pandemic and this journal is a timely and constructive source of information for those efforts."
Among the issues addressed in the journal papers:
- The importance of affordable housing and treatments, as well as environmental, economic and political events, in HIV prevention.
- Building the next generation of leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
- The impact of poverty and hope on HIV transmission.
- Boosting the impact of accountability efforts.
- Why men who have sex with men continue to be at heightened risk despite prevention programs aimed at them.
- The continued expansion and integration of care, treatment and prevention programs essential to a strategic approach toward controlling the epidemic.
To access the supplement, titled "Taking the LEAP Leadership, Equity, Accountability and Partnerships in a World Living with AIDS," visit www.aidsonline.com. Click on "Archive" at the top of the page and then click "August 2008 Suppl 2" on the subsequent page.
The International AIDS Conference runs through Aug. 8.
The UCLA AIDS Institute, established in 1992, is a multidisciplinary think tank drawing on the skills of top-flight researchers in the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS, the first cases of which were reported in 1981 by UCLA physicians. Institute members include researchers in virology and immunology, genetics, cancer, neurology, ophthalmology, epidemiology, social sciences, public health, nursing and disease prevention. Their findings have led to advances in treating HIV, as well as other diseases, such as hepatitis B and C, influenza and cancer.
The UCLA Program in Global Health at the David Geffen School of Medicine, founded in 2003, partners with academic centers and prevention and treatment providers worldwide to advance prevention, policy and treatment for global diseases. The program collaborates with groups and institutions to conduct useful global health research; address important policies, especially those related to inequity; and to train the next generation of leaders in the U.S. and around the world.