Intended for healthcare professionals


Rising rates of HIV infection

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 10 February 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:320
  1. Angela J Robinson, consultant in genitourinary medicine (,
  2. Brian G Gazzard, consultant gastroenterologist
  1. Department of Genitourinary Medicine, London WC1E 6AU
  2. Kobler Centre, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London SW10 9TU

Preventive measures are failing

In the third decade of the HIV pandemic the number of infected individuals continues to increase. An estimated 38 million people world-wide, including over 2 million children, are now infected with HIV, and a record 4.8 million became infected in 2003.1 Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst affected region: a third of the world's HIV infected population is living there. Why are infections continuing to rise, and what can be done about it?

The underlying reason for this continuing increase is socioeconomic, but the increase also represents a failure of prevention. For a large epidemic to occur in a particular country, both poverty and poor social cohesion are required. The worst epidemics are therefore occurring in countries where wars, inter-community tensions, and corruption have contributed to a disintegration of the fabric of society. HIV infection is rooted in poverty, ignorance, and a lack of autonomy of women.2

The ideal prevention would be a universally available vaccine against HIV. The presentation of negative results from the first phase …

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