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Letters Spending on HIV

It's only numbers

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 01 March 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:439
  1. Jeffrey C McIlwain, consultant, clinical risk management
  1. St Helen's and Knowsley NHS Trust, Prescot, Merseyside L35 5DR
  1. jeff.mcilwain{at}

    Both England and de Lay et al play the numbers game of statistics, economy, and modelling of the future.12 But I guess that none of the authors is HIV positive or a doctor and so can sit safely behind a desk throwing numbers to the audience.

    HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria are among the greatest killers of the poorest people in the world, claiming about 1 million lives each per annum, or 114 people every hour of every day, disabling the future economies and existence of the poorest nations. Yet, has the world conquered even one of the big three? If a glimmer of hope to save the future deaths came from heavy investment in immune damage from any of the big three, then every penny spent is worth while. To change public attitudes will take decades, unlike the immediate and positive effect of Princess Diana holding the hand of a patient with AIDS before the media. Until then money must be invested in trying to stem the tide of death for today and tomorrow.

    “Fiddling while Africa burns” is a common issue, when words from desk jockeys take centre stage and engage debate and not action. No author brings a primary solution to the table, but rather each mildly lambasts world authorities and nation leaders for fiscal mishandling. A weak debate. In the time it has taken you to read this another person has died of AIDS—a fact of life.


    • Competing interests: None declared.


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