World AIDS Day focuses attention on the structural drivers of HIV

06 December 2012
Alexandra Hyde

STRIVE partners, associates and other organisations have been drawing attention to a range of “upstream” issues during this year’s World AIDS Day activities.

Writing for the Financial Times, STRIVE researchers Anna Vassall, Michelle Remme and LSHTM’s Director Peter Piot, argue that despite huge advances, the battle against HIV/AIDS is far from over. In particular, the authors point to the need for new co-funding models and multi-sector interventions that tackle the structural drivers of HIV risk.

Poverty, stigma, gender inequality, and repressive laws continue to worsen the HIV epidemic and stop too many people from receiving vital health services.

Blogging for TrustLaw, ICRW’s Director of Global Health Katherine Fritz celebrates the advances in biomedical interventions, but points out that there are still many barriers that prevent people from accessing treatment.

Medical approaches to prevent and treat HIV will inevitably run up against the beliefs and motivations of human beings as well as the social and cultural norms of communities […] Our progress toward the end of AIDS will be slow and painstaking if we don’t address these powerful social forces while simultaneously providing life-saving medical interventions.

In a piece for the Huffington Post, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Lynne Featherstone, focused on the need to tackle issues like HIV stigma. She focuses on the young women she met during a recent visit to Zambia, and the work supported by UK Aid to provide outreach services for adolescents in rural and underserved districts.

There's still the hurdle of reaching people who are marginalised from the services they need and most at risk of infection.