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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 07:34 GMT 08:34 UK
Aids: Are we doing enough?
An AIDS patient lies on his hospital bed in central Thailand
We discussed the global Aids epidemic in our phone-in programme, Talking Point.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has attacked the US for failing to deliver enough funds to tackle Aids worldwide.

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, he said the fight against terrorism was overshadowing the HIV/Aids epidemic.

The Americans have also been criticised for their policy of advocating sexual abstinence to prevent Aids at the International Aids conference in Bangkok.

Campaigners say the global epidemic can only be controlled if the use of condoms is promoted.

A record five million people were infected with HIV last year, according to the latest United Nations report on the Aids epidemic.

Is enough being done to combat Aids? Is urging abstinence enough? Have you been affected by Aids? Send us your comments and stories.

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

We can help slowing down the Aids problem by educating everyone of its danger. Ignorance and selfishness don't help to prevent this deadly disease.
Mung, Gilroy, CA, US

Kofi is a real joker. 15 billion is not enough from one country? What does the EU give? Maybe all Americans should just sign over their pay checks because corrupt governments can't educate their citizens nor do they care. Somehow it's always America's fault because the world is so dysfunctional. I wish we would just get out of the screaming bottomless UN.
Andrea, Cincinnati, USA

I wonder what phenomena are at work in the world's Muslim-majority countries that have largely spared their populations from the ravages of Aids? Certainly Afghanistan, Iraq or Mali suffer at least as badly as Botswana, Russia or Thailand from the poor public health services, taboos on sex education, poverty, and lack of female empowerment cited by many here as the roots of this pandemic. It would seem these societies might be doing something right, and they don't seem to be bankrupting themselves doing it either.
Glenn, Washington DC, USA

We are doing too much for those whose Aids infection stems from their own choice of lifestyles
David Kriner, Singapore

I believe that we are doing too much for those whose Aids infection stems from their own choice of lifestyles. The resources could be better directed toward fatal diseases that are not due to choices in lifestyle.
David Kriner, Singapore

I listen to the BBC World Service while I am working and I'm sick of hearing about condoms, Aids, sex and HIV. So what if the fight against terrorism is overshadowing the fight against Aids? I have sympathy for those people dying of Aids but there are millions of people dying of other diseases, and starving to death. I don't care about the sex lives of people in Africa or Thailand. I just want to listen to the news in peace without every other word being sex or condoms!
Elizabeth Leighton, Monterey, California

We must do everything we can to keep the risks people face to a minimum
Adele, Yorkshire
Abstinence is one method of preventing the spread of HIV in developing countries, just as avoiding fat and cholesterol is one method of preventing a heart attack in Western society. But the fact remains that, in both situations, natural forces will continue to drive many people to take risks. That's where education and promoting the use of condoms comes in - we must do everything we can to keep the risks people face to a minimum. Whether it's a disease that mainly affects the poor or one that comes with wealth, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that all people have access to all available therapies.
Adele, Yorkshire

The idea that abstinence can stop Aids is not just unrealistic, but also incredibly crass in its own way. It reduces the problem of Aids to a moralistic one, portraying its sufferers as victims of their own intemperance and promiscuity. The Americans' approach makes a mockery of people who contracted it through no fault of their own (blood transfusions, birth, etc), as well as others' efforts to help them. Is this really taking the Aids problem seriously??

We fought polio and we prevailed. It was not easy and did not happen overnight. At one time polio was a scourge just as Aids is today. It will take time and money but we will prevail. Then we will take on the next big disease.
Colin, Milton, USA

The abstinence v. condoms debate is ridiculous. Neither protects the one in three women in South Africa who are raped, people paid for donating blood (using infected needles) in China, or young girls forced into prostitution in Asia.
Ruth, UK

Enough talk more action
Steve, Chicago, USA

Although I support George Bush, Mr Annan is right. Enough talk more action, the time is now! Let's fund the UN programs adequately.
Steve, Chicago, USA

We have to be realistic. When one can't change habits, one needs to educate. Education remains the best way to stop Aids. When we consider the amount of money invested into the war in Iraq, my guess is that rich country can invest more in fighting Aids. I have not been affected by Aids so far, but I do care for my future children I hope I'll have someday. Education is the solutions to many problems in the world, and also for most people.
David Cormier, Tokyo, Japan

It's all very well to teach abstinence, but when the majority of people contracting HIV are women, many of whom are forced to have unprotected sex. The best way forward is to educate the men who are spreading the disease.

The US is right to say that abstinence is the best way to stop Aids. But it's hardly realistic, is it? Everybody knows Aids is escalating in Asia thanks largely to prostitutes, many of whom support their families in the country by their work. How can these people be expected to abstain? Their families depend on them! Everybody who moans about the promotion of condoms as indicative of a 'permissive society' fail to see the problem with the sympathy and pragmatism that this world-wide epidemic demands. What use are your sexual scruples in preventing the deaths of all these people who come from societies which are less privileged than yours? Get real and support the efforts of those promoting condom use.
Henry, London, UK

We live in an anything goes world
Pat, Sussex
Of course abstinence will prevent the spread of Aids but who in this world is going to put it forward as a serious option. We live in an "anything goes world" and self control has no meaning anymore so Aids and more will go on, and we will spend millions on finding a cure, just making sure that people can indulge in every way possible.
Pat, Sussex

Knowing that any promiscuous behaviour, be it illicit sex or drug use, could bring upon an almost certain death; yes, it should be enough to stop the illicit behaviour.
Wendy, Virginia, USA

If condoms were so effective why do we have the AIDS epidemic we have now? The fact is before the missionaries were ran out they were teaching abstinence in Africa. They did not have the problem then that they do today.
Joseph, Kansas City, USA

The responsibility is on each person and everyone must be made aware of this
Jane, Foxfield, UK
We don't want to hear that we need to change our sexual behaviour in order to protect ourselves. We want the government to protect us. How exactly are they to do it? People must be sensible. If they are not going to use condoms because they are too embarrassed to buy them, then they must refrain from risky behaviour. The responsibility is on each person and everyone must be made aware of this.
Jane, Foxfield, UK

What a load of tosh. Of course not having sex will mean that the virus isn't spread. Problem is that most people - the faithful and faithless alike - only give a degree of lip service to abstinence, because natural forces drive our sexuality that are quite un-natural to fight.
Matt, Chelmsford, UK

This is a typical US policy, blind to the realities of this world. Abstinence is simply an unrealistic way of counteracting AIDS. The reality is that people have sex and as such we should do all we can to prevent AIDS from spreading by promoting condoms. We must also educate people as far as AIDS is concerned, and if religious groups really wish to, promote abstinence. But these groups must realise that abstinence based on religious persuasion will not appeal to all, it probably won't even appeal to a majority of people living in places where the AIDS epidemic has erupted. Therefore, let us be rational and realistic about the whole matter and think of real solutions!
James K., Exeter / UK

There is not one way to stop AIDS, except education. Abstinence should be part of the education program, as well as safe sex, etc. Condoms are not 100 percent safe either. The more people know - the better they can decide to protect themselves.
Dalo, Coral Gables, FL, USA

A ridiculous policy based upon the theological musings of elderly un-married men
Jerry Taylor, London, UK
The preaching of abstinence has never been particularly effective. The Catholic Church is certainly to blame; for encouraging poor and ill-educated people to take its preaching seriously whilst in its European homeland of its richer and better educated adherents the vast majority cheerfully ignore it; for spreading inaccurate information about condoms; and for having a ridiculous policy based upon the theological musings of elderly un-married men.
Jerry Taylor, London, UK

Abstinence is not an option. Humans are sexual beings. The debates about condom use are also part of a wider issue concerning other STIs and family planning. Being faithful to one person is a very good strategy for minimising the spread of diseases but it is not an option for family planning if people admit that they enjoy sex and want to have it more often than they want to make children. Abstinence doesn't work. What's wrong with sex? If we realise that sex is nothing shameful and stop treating the issue with this in mind and promote valuing sex as something good and nice that can be shared between two people in a responsible way then we will be getting somewhere in the fight against Aids, STIs and also unwanted pregnancies.
Phill Wilcox, Manchester

Abstinence is the law written by God for the good of mankind (for our spiritual, emotional, and physical well being), and for the preservation of His plan for faithfulness and fidelity in marriage (between one man and one woman) and the health of families and children. Abstinence is the only way to prevent AIDS.
Susan Tiffany, Cleveland, Ohio USA

Abstinence education is simply moronic religious bantering by the short-sighted idiots running our foreign policy.
Eric Garcia, Denver, USA

Condoms are not an option; self control is the only way
Maria, Helsby

How can anyone blame the Catholic Church for the current Aids epidemic? The Church's teaching has always been clear, abstinence before marriage and sex only between married couples. It has taken Aids to show the truth of this argument. Condoms are not an option; self control is the only way.
Maria, Helsby, England

Although abstinence is the most reliable way of stopping the spread of Aids it is unrealistic to expect casual sex to stop in a world where sex and sexuality is used to sell everything from cars to films. Education in how to have sex safely is the only way to curb this disease.
Vik, UK

It relies on people going against their natural instincts and needs
David Hazel, Fareham

Sexual abstinence would solve all of our problems, wouldn't it? It would ensure there weren't any more of us to have problems. The trouble with this approach is that it suffers from the same problem as dieting to lose weight. It relies on people going against their natural instincts and needs, with all the resulting frustration that perpetual dieters experience. As with dieting, the result would be that nature will have its way in the end, under circumstances which are less well-controlled than they might have been. Another shot in the foot for the human race, I feel.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK

My best friend is dying of Aids. A colleague recently lost her daughter. My mother is nursing a sick neighbour. As a South African, I have seen the ravages of Aids on a personal level. And you think, if only they had been careful. If only they had abstained. If only... but the reality is that human beings are sexual creatures, full stop. Live with it. Deal with it. It is the nature of things.
Charl Senekal, Johannesburg

The problem is not confined to one reason so needs multiple solutions; sexual fidelity, poverty eradication, abstinence, supply of drugs, educating people and health facilities.
Qismat Ullah Khan, Peshawar, Pakistan

It is interesting that most people write from the detached perspective of the uninvolved. I thought it would never affect me and well, now it has. HIV is everyone's problem, whatever your religious and moral beliefs. Sticking your head in the sand and taking the moral high ground are both equally futile. What a pity people only realise that, like I did, when it's too late.
PY, London

Abstinence is not really natural for many people. Thus, the reality is that they will not do it. Which means they should act responsibly and use a condom when they do have sex. No amount of legislation or bribery by politicians will change reality.
W Morgan, Hanoi, Vietnam

Abstinence will not work, and thus it will never be the cure against Aids
Timo, Lausanne

From a scientific point of view: It is the way of nature to keep our species alive by reproduction and evolution. To reach this goal, nature will not care about marriage or faithfulness. There's nothing we can do about that, but using a condom makes things a lot more secure. From a religious point of view: God made us all vulnerable to temptation. Most of the time we can resist, but sometimes we cannot resist. And for these times we cannot resist, using a condom is the only means to stay healthy. Abstinence will not work, and thus it will never be the cure against Aids.
Timo, Lausanne, Switzerland

The emphasis has to be always on self help: self-education and self-control. No amount of pumping anti-viral drugs and even money which may end up in pockets unless properly channelled is likely to help. Most of all, it has to be on the acknowledged national agenda and priority where it has reached epidemic proportions.
Saravan, UK

The arguments presented here against the Catholic Church are specious. Yes, that church is opposed to contraception but it is even more strongly opposed to promiscuity. Anyone who doesn't use contraception but is promiscuous isn't listening to the Catholic Church anyway. The spread of Aids in Africa has more to do with poverty and tribal attitudes than Catholic ideals.
Annika Lagerstrom, ÷rebro, Sweden

Before we have to choose between monogamy and abstinence, let's remember the spread of HIV isn't confined to the sexually promiscuous. Enough men, women and children are dying from Aids-related illness around the world to prove this. We're therefore increasingly at the mercy of the pharmaceutical giants and governments, who must act swiftly and benevolently before life expectancy is further reduced.
Dan Benham, London, UK

If so, the enemy we fight is much worse than HIV
Ken, Florida

Why is there such hostility to abstinence education? Is it verboten in this day and age to use words such as morality, fidelity, monogamy, or abstinence? If so, the enemy we fight is much worse than HIV.
Ken, Florida, USA

Being the true Christian, Muslim or Jew - abstinence when young and then loving relationships in marriage are crucial to fighting Aids. It is so simple that I cannot understand why the UN and others governments do not overwhelmingly support this attitude.
Henryk Karas, Poland,

Sexual behaviour is hard to change and simply giving information will not change that behaviour. Many people know smoking cigarettes is dangerous but they still smoke! Sexual pleasure has been the cheapest and easiest method which all humans have used to survive in a dark and hopeless world. Until we have a world where humans feel loved, supported and safe, the Aids epidemic will remain rampant. In the short-term, however, the suffering from Aids could be reduced if the pharmaceutical industry would become humane enough to reduce the cost of the "cocktail" of drugs for persons with the disease in the developing world.
Debbie, Kingston, Jamaica

I don't think that the Aids crisis is taken seriously enough. In Fiji the authorities are just beginning to sit up and listen after numbers of cases were reported and some of those infected started coming out and talking about it.
Rosemary Naivalurua, Suva, Fiji

It is time that they recognised the problem
Tavi Samoila, Ottawa, Canada
One of the main obstacles to prevention is the opposition of the Catholic Church and other religious institutions to birth-control methods such as condoms. In many underdeveloped countries, especially in rural areas, the organised religion institutions (churches, mosques, temples, etc) are the only way to convey a message to the majority of the population. It is time that they recognised the problem, stop preaching against condoms, and become more involved in preaching the benefits of safe sex as well as a basic sex education to the population.
Tavi Samoila, Ottawa, Canada

Last week I spent a week in Cambodia on a work experience trip. One of the places we visited was an Aids hospice run by nuns who work under the order set up by Mother Teresa. Infection rates in Asia are increasing in my opinion because there is a lot of prostitution going on and there is very little education about STIs and Aids.
Katriona, Singapore, ex-British

I just read a part of the report from Dr Piot who is the executive director of UNAids and he does know what is he is talking about... for many women in Africa, the mantra of ABC, abstinence, be faithful and condoms - which is regularly recited by outside agencies and especially the US is pretty irrelevant, he said. The Aids pandemic in Africa is hitting women worst. Nearly 60% of the victims are female, and they often do not have option of abstinence, fidelity or condom use. Many are subject to violent, non-consensual sex by men. I wish that more people would read and get educated before passing judgement.
Marsha, Los Angeles, USA

Communities must change the way they deal with Aids infected people
Gail, South Africa<
Having worked in a rural hospital in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, I was able to see the effects of Aids first hand. Dealing with Aids is multi faceted - the governments have to change their approach (in the case of our government just admit that HIV and Aids are connected), communities must change the way they deal with Aids infected people, individuals must accept that Aids is real, yes in the majority of instances it is also connected to socio economic groups. The younger generation are in denial - my own nieces and nephews think that it will not happen to them as they come from a good middle class background - although Aids and STDs are mentioned all the time and society is open. Possibly until each family has a member that is HIV positive attitudes may change. There is no simple solution.
Gail, South Africa

We are at the point where million of people are slowly dying and we blame these people for becoming affected or we blame their religion or customs. How cruel can some be that when faced with human pain all he has to say is that you brought it to your self because ... (fill the blank). What the west has to face is that not only we are not a part of the solution but we are also a part of the problem. We have to accept that sex vacation (a major contributor in Aids on Asia) is powered mostly by westerners.
Panagiotis L, Athens Greece

I'm in Banaglore, India at the moment, and though it is one of the most developed cities in the country it is almost impossible to buy a condom here. They are not freely laid out on the shelves as they are in the UK and other Western countries. To buy a condom, you'd have to search hard, and have to ask, but since there is such a huge taboo over the issues of sex here, not many people will ask. It is their culture. To impose a huge strategy of delivering condoms here and discussing the issues of safe sex would mean imposing elements of Western culture upon them - a culture which many view as loose and immoral. There is a desperate need for greater distribution of sex education around the world, but for it to work successfully by embracing the people, we have to always remember that they live in an almost entirely different culture to us and hold different values.
Rebecca, London, UK

Anyone who has a friend or member of their family suffering from Aids or have known someone who died from Aids will know the pain and illness involved. Well said Katherine, "we should be helping our fellow human beings" Sitting in judgement, well, let he who is without sin cast the first stone!
Mike Harries, Swansea, UK

If people stop behaving in an immoral manner, Aids will stop.
Mike Newton, Singapore
If people stop behaving in an immoral manner, Aids will stop. The spouse who infects the other spouse is guilty of murder and should be punished accordingly
Mike Newton, Singapore

The UN report links the increase in Aids to the fact that the majority of women in Africa and Asia lose their virginity through non-consensual sex with an older man. In short, these cultures are suffering because rape is the norm.

I think Aids is a global epidemic and not enough is being done to give treatments to ever infected person. The WHO should insist the rich countries pay for HAART for the third world, the governments should increase the taxes to the greedy drug producing companies. It is very unfair that if you are born in the Third world and develop Aids funding is denied.
E Collins, Bolton

If 40% of the population of a European country were HIV positive, we'd have found a cure by now.
Paul, Cardiff

The religious dogma and stereotyping is what is bogging the campaign down
James, UK
The religious dogma and stereotyping is what is bogging the campaign down, Aids cannot be combated until these are removed from the equation, only then will programmes of education work to their full effectiveness.
James, UK

The Aids campaign is ridiculous and all about turning the issue of Aids into a debate about racism. There should be no taxpayers' money spent on treatment drugs in developing countries unless there is more emphasis into prevention and education, which is much cheaper and far more efficient. Uganda has shown how to do it and cut the infection rate from over 30% to just 6% in a decade through education. Way to go.
M Wallengren, Copenhagen, Denmark

There is a cure for Aids. It's called abstinence. When the world stops its immoral lust for adulterous sex, and illicit drug abuse, we'll have our cure. Until then I say take all the money earmarked for Aids around the world and put it into a fund for ridding the world of something really insidious such as cancer.
Mark, Yakima, USA

How about we put people's lives above profit and ideology?
Katherine, London, UK
Teaching abstinence only - hmm, yes - that will help the women who are in thrall to their husbands who use prostitutes. No doubt it will also help the children who are infected in the womb? Here's a thought - how about we make the drugs cheap and the education wide ranging? How about we put people's lives above profit and ideology? How about we stop being patronising and assuming that we know best and just help out as fellow human beings because that is the right thing to do?
Katherine, London, UK

I believe the Aids crisis is not being taking seriously due to lack of education mainly in Third world countries. Also, the superpowers of today are too pre-occupied with wars and destruction so the important issues are being blurred out.
Ziad Daher, Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia

If religious types go around preaching terrorism, they are dealt with severely. If they preach against condoms, we do nothing. At the end of the day, who are the greatest killers?
Jon E, France

As long as there are ignorance, superstition and hypocrisy, people will get infected with Aids. In the developing world, education would go a long way to help the situation. Preaching, blaming the West etc will not help. People must take responsibility for their actions. No drug can cure Aids. The rich may be able to give food and medicines to the poor, but we can't cure them. People have to protect themselves. Someone needs to stand up and speak the truth in the face of political and religious dogma and lies.
Iain Nicholson, UK

African leaders have no time to combat Aids, all they have time for is to protect their regimes from coups.
Kathaab Afandi, Spain

Why is the WHO spending millions on testing for HIV in Africa? The tests are expensive (and not always reliable). Surely Africa would be better served by having the money spent on education and on other areas that are much needed to combat the problem rather than tell us what we already know?
Nick Manon, Inverness, Scotland

Looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction? It's HIV/Aids.
Yemi, Ibadan, Nigeria

My god! 40% infection rates? We have to throw everything, absolutely all we can afford at educating these poor countries. You can't just tell them to use a condom and get over it. An understanding of viral infections and human disease at a very basic level is also required. This is not a mercy mission. First Africa, now, apparently Asia and Central Europe. This is a threat to all of us! I remember big campaigns in the 80s about Aids and then nothing. Why? We've had our warning, I reckon this could be it for mankind.
Chas Knight, Duxford, UK

Human suffering is big money
Evan, UK/Dubai
The monopoly that several (American) drugs companies have on the treatment of Aids means that progress will never be made until the American government gets out of bed with them. Drugs are making far too much money for these companies for the business-controlled government to instigate any real research which might make the old, expensive drugs obsolete. Human suffering is big money.
Evan, UK/Dubai

I'm not sure how it can be commented these countries don't take it seriously. They are human beings just as you and I and any human being would be affected by seeing people around them dying from this disease. I spent a month in Malawi last summer and things are being tried to help. The new President has organised massive condom campaigns which were seen in all the major cities. The rural areas are the problems. There is a serious lack of communication links and medical facilities available in these areas, so there situation can't really be helped. To say it's not being taken seriously is something, I feel, us people in the rich, Western, First World cannot judge. The lifestyles of these countries, needing many children for income, lack of basic healthcare and lack of education on the matter means that little can be done to help the people that get infected and the taboo of the subject doesn't help much either
Sophie, UK

The world had ignored the problem of Aids for a long time. It is never too late to take some drastic action in order to curb the spread of Aids. Once upon a time people with leprosy were isolated and treated. This same process could help the world in checking the spread of this dreaded disease. Isolate those that are infected. First, this checks further spread. And then treat them as a group. The WHO could take this programme up. I know people would shout of fundamental human rights. But didn't those with leprosy have those rights? Please save the world from total annihilation.
Clement Chukwudifu, Abuja, Nigeria

A person can be perfectly responsible with more than one partner
Kaz, Briton in NJ, USA
Why concentrate on monogamy? As a monogamous person with polyamourous friends, I know that a person can be perfectly responsible with more than one partner - indeed, people who have consciously decided to be responsibly polyamourous tend to be better educated about safer sex and STDs than many monogamous people.
Kaz, Briton in NJ, USA

It must be remembered that every culture is different and a microcosm unto itself. The comments here reflect an excellent way of finding out exactly how to help people: To actually ask them how they and their communities feel about HIV - and what practical things they need done to stop them and their loved ones being at risk. The availability of medicine for pregnant women is an excellent suggestion - as is treatment or support for those who have been raped or deliberately infected. If we can't beat Aids let's at least help those who have it by asking them directly what they want or need, and getting it for them.
Emma-Joy, Essex, UK

There is no doubt that in the third world, ignorance is a major factor. In the West, however, survey after survey seems to show that the safe (or, at least, safer) sex message is ignored by large numbers of people. Certainly, rates of other STDs continue to climb, suggesting that people continue to indulge in risky sexual behaviour. But people continue to smoke too, so why should we be surprised?
JG, Huddersfield UK

Poverty and illiteracy are the curse and main determinants for risk of HIV and Aids. Fighting against poverty can reduce risk of HIV/Aids. The problem, fighting against HIV/Aids, is also lack of political willingness in many Asian countries.
Barna and Monir, Karlstad, Sweden

Stop all the useless meetings and conferences
Kondwani Munthali, Malawi
Aids does not need a commission, special agency or strategy. We have looked at our pocket needs instead of the realistic ways of addressing this pandemic. Aids requires no strategy, but commitment to change Southern African men's perspectives, educate more women and create more opportunities for everyone. It does not need a strong international conference, we always have many money spending binges in the name of the 25-million suffering. Men need to be taught one message - if you get Aids you die, if you sleep with many women without protection you will catch it. Stop all the useless meetings and conferences.
Kondwani Munthali, Cardiff/Malawian

Let's face it HIV/Aids is here to stay. The disease has now become inextricably linked with economic status. The number of people living with HIV/Aids exploded in India and China. That alone is the indicator that illiteracy and abject poverty play an all too important part in the spread of HIV/Aids. It is obvious that more should be done to tackle the spread of HIV/Aids but this must go hand in hand with eradicating extreme poverty and combating illiteracy.
Issara, Bangkok, Thailand

The Aids problem doesn't really exist in my country, not because there are no HIV/Aids infected people in Japan but simply because people ignore the issue by not paying enough attention to it and not discussing it publicly. Behind the sheer curtains, the number of HIV/Aids infected population is surely increasing.
Sakura, Fukuoka, Japan

I believe that the biggest danger that may come of this is an intergenerational gap. In fact a lot of African countries are having problems transferring their culture to the up and coming generations, who are slowly losing a part of their roots and heritage .
Lucious Costa, Canada

Getting a cure for Aids is perhaps ten times better than five hundred billion dollars in aid
Golit Peter Dada, Abuja - Nigeria
Why we still have Aids ravaging the world's most productive sector of the population today is because developed countries are not seriously affected. Otherwise, a cure would have been found since. My earnest plea with the advanced countries is for them to intensify their search for a cure which must yield results in less than five years; if not, by then, Africa should be forgotten from the face of the earth in view of the colossal loss that would have emerged. Getting a cure for Aids is perhaps ten times better than five hundred billion dollars in aid.
Golit Peter Dada, Abuja - Nigeria

In all African countries Aids is not taken seriously. The only hope which can reduce the number is to have big roll religious centres. Look in Ethiopia the number is growing very fast.
Mussa, Eritrea

Having moved to the UK three years ago from South Africa, I cannot believe how ignorant people are here in the UK regarding Aids. It seems to be seen as predominantly a problem for the poor. With global travel becoming more and more accessible the threat of Aids spreading further is even greater.

The resent increase in new infections of other sexually transmitted diseases within the UK should be a warning. According to some Aids experts an increase in other sexually transmitted diseases is normally a precursor to an increase in HIV/Aids infections.
Steven, UK/South Africa

A friend worked for three years in Botswana by the main highway linking South Africa to the Zimbabwe area, in that time three local villages were reduced by Aids spread by truck drivers, from over 1,000 persons to less than three hundred. A catastrophe in any language. What lead to it - educational ignorance, government indifference, endemic poverty, religious bigotry. Can the disease be stopped - probably not in the lifetime of most of Africans. Will the deaths go increasing - undoubtedly. All the money in the world, all the drugs in the world, cannot overcome the deficiencies of education and the effects of blinding poverty.
Peter, Germany

What we need is marital/sexual fidelity, not condoms!
Chris, Aarau, Switzerland
If at long last governments and the media would value truth more than political correctness - that is: stop preaching polygamy and clearly state the fact that HIV-infection is, as has always been the case, an entirely (99.99%) preventable disease, then we are talking about taking Aids seriously. What we need is marital/sexual fidelity, not condoms! Propagating the latter is a pathetic and dangerous attempt to cover up the basic problem!
Chris, Aarau, Switzerland

Aids crisis? First. We know that, worldwide, huge amounts of money are spent every day in weapons. Second. We could join our voices and ask our governments to spend differently our money. Third (and last). We already know that our lifestyle is one of the main reasons of third world's people living conditions. Aids crisis? Or hypocrisies?
Gianluca Agati, Forlž, Italy

No terrorist attack has claimed 42 million lives... Aids has, and the number still rises, and the reaction to this little piece of evidence has not changed much.
Peter, Kampala, Uganda

Aids is not being taken seriously by the people on the ground here in Africa. Many people do not wish to know their HIV status and that causes problems as they go on to infect others unknowingly. Also many here are in denial they still blame witchcraft for clearly HIV/Aids related diseases. Many organisations spend money meant for Aids affected people on seminars, workshops and other useless talk shops.
Veap Ndlovu, Zimbabwe

First, the Catholic Church must change its extremely harmful attitude to contraception and stop telling lies about condoms. Second, people in developing countries need education - not just about sex but in general too. Last but not least, when it comes to sexual behaviour, people everywhere need to develop sense of responsibility towards themselves and others.
Mika Piirainen, Joensuu, Finland

I am a young Englishmen working in the Samara Region of Russia where I understand there are high rates of HIV infection. Yet, I have not seen any warnings, adverts or education campaigns. Russians are still very casual about sex and something needs to be done by the Russian government who appear to be simply ignoring the problem.
GW, Russia

40% of adults in a country are HIV positive; how can anyone say the AIDS crisis is being taken seriously?
Kpdodo, Mauritius
40% of adults in a country are HIV positive; how can anyone say the AIDS crisis is being taken seriously? It takes information, from local leaders, irrespective of religious background, to inform the people who respect them as to how to protect themselves. It takes a more humane approach to drug therapy to slow down the progression of the virus. How many souls to a dollar of dividend in the large pharmaceutical companies? Or most probably, per dollar in the pay packages of the top executives of these firms?
Kpdodo, Mauritius

There are two important factors which support HIV, illiteracy and lack of women rights and therefore little hope for the African countries to cope there HIV crisis
Stefan Neifer, Berlin, Germany

Yes I am affected by the HIV because all those who are suffering are human being and I feel the agonies of all those people. Because people in Asia are more resistant to new methods of evading sexually transmitted diseases. Moreover poverty deteriorates the situation as well.
Awais Qarni, Lahore Pakistan

I have noticed that in the Eastern Europe where I live, the people do not give much importance to STDs, rather, they concentrate only in avoiding pregnancy. The use of contraceptive drugs is the issue in this area. Only few weeks ago after joining EU, I noticed on the streets of Tallinn for the first time, advertisements about Aids and that lasted for just two weeks.

Right now everything is back to square one. So also the other states I have visited in this region. There should be much concerns about this because I see the neglect on the side of the government to properly educate people here.
Opara Victor, Nigerian in Estonia

Governments and churches of all faiths need to put more efforts in the reform of mankind and sexuality
Ahmad Hmoud, Amman

No I do not think it is taken seriously. It may be by some countries or even some people. In general sexual behaviour and the sex industry together with Pharmaceutical establishments can do more to clean up their act and put man before profit. Governments and churches of all faiths need to put more efforts in the reform of mankind and sexuality.
Ahmad Hmoud, Amman, Jordan

If leaders are not serious about this epidemic, then I don't see Aids reducing in the world. You actually see big people who are reckless with their lives and tell people to change when they don't want to change in their behaviour. Practice what you preach.
Tamika, Blantyre, Malawi

Remove the patents on Aids medicines from American firms. This would enable others to produce low-cost drugs that would be affordable to the African countries. Global science needs to be mobilised to tackle the Aids crisis.
Tom Stambollouianq, Thailand

Tom from Thailand: if you do not honour drug companies' patent rights, research into new drugs (not just for AIDS) will stop. Nobody loves the drug companies, but you cannot expect them to carry out research for the love of science or out of altruism. Welcome to the real world.
Andrew, London

There needs to be more involvement by the government to create more awareness of the disease and preventative measures, including abstinence. Superstitions and false rumours about the disease and some of the measures to prevent it also need to be addressed - if you believe that condoms are actually a device from the West to handicap you in some way, would you use it? Church leaders also need to take a stance, too many don't talk about Aids and make it seem shameful. Those with the disease should also not be cast aside by society, this is how the disease spreads so rapidly, everyone is ashamed to confront it and so keep quiet and carry on as before.
Wambui, Nairobi, Kenya

Maybe instead of always teaching safe sex, as if there is such a thing, we should be presenting abstinence as an equally (or more) valid option. In my high school when they teach us about sex, they present it in a way that assumes all kids are having sex and so, this is how you protect yourself. Wouldn't it be much healthier to wait till marriage? I don't think that you have to have any religious views to agree that no sex is safe sex.
Shannon, USA

Even the mosques should teach about Aids!
Thomas Barlue, Accra

The world population is now on the increase, going to about 6.3billion and more everyday. Those NGOs and world health agencies have to adopt new methods of solving health related problem. Modern techniques and processes are needed to change these situations about health human health. Every resource used to combat Aids in the past needs to be increased and more equipped as the Aids virus is enforcing itself. More awareness programs are needed across the world - even the churches and schools and even the mosques should teach about Aids!
Thomas Barlue, Accra, Ghana

I read recently that Uganda had made great headway on this by strong messages from leadership regarding staying with one partner. This seems simple, and makes sense. Unfortunately the West is in no position to advocate such a moral stance.
Bob, USA

Public enlightenment and orientation remains the only way forward. I hate it when people always point fingers to only Africa, and sometimes Asia alone. It's a world problem.
Solomon, Warri, Nigeria

Is enough being done to combat Aids? Yep. I did my part. I don't have unprotected sex. I don't share needles either and amazingly, I haven't contracted Aids, nor have I spread it. But I suppose I am simply naive to believe that others could also take responsibility for their own lives and do their little part to stop the spread of this disease. So often we hear how each individual has to do his/her part to save the planet by driving hybrid cars or recycling yet somehow taking individual responsibility for one's health for one's own good and the good of mankind is excused. Stop risky behaviour and you'll stop Aids!
Michael, Pittsburgh, USA

Michael from Pittsburgh, USA: How can people who cannot afford or actually have condoms available for them to take care of themselves? Yes, people in America can afford all those items for protected sex, but in 3rd world countries it is not possible.
Adam Mirani, Erbil, Iraq

Good for Michael, Pittsburgh, USA. At least he's not going to suffer. God forbid he should be unlucky enough to find himself misinformed by his government, lied to by religious leaders and have all medication that could help him withheld. This attitude is typical of the selfish West.
Matt, Amsterdam, Netherlands (ex UK)

Michael from the US lives in a fairy-land being cosseted as a male in the richest place in the planet with every possible right afforded to him. Tell a poor woman in Africa who has no ability to "abstain" due to regular rape or an infected husband, to take responsibility for herself. For people who don't have fundamental rights, taking responsibility isn't always possible. Get a grip on reality before preaching beyond the borders of your experience. The US deceives everyone by claiming to donate $15B, then having religious conservatives tie it up legally with silly abstinence-only clauses, and drives to ensure the American drug companies continue to squeeze their fair share out of the dying and starving in countries with 1% of the wealth of the US. Michael, I'm glad you're well. I also hope you realise how lucky you are.
Ken, Pretoria, South Africa

To Adam/Matt: I think you're missing Michael's point. He's advocating the simple principle of personal responsibility. For you to assume there are societies that, without the help of government or religion, are unable to link sexual habits with the overwhelming death that surrounds them is sad, but you don't need money to exercise autonomy. To assume society is there to serve the individual is the short-sighted shame of leftism. The individual need not, as Matt suggests, relinquish their autonomy to the lies of government and religious institutions. It's probably worth recognizing that, failing improvements in personal responsibility, drugs effectively prolong life just long enough to enable transmission of drug-resistant strains of HIV. How's that for expensive? Self control. Cheap and effective.
Dustin McMinn, USA

A deep and clear knowledge of HIV/Aids remains the primary principal heed
Abiodun Awonuga, Sovenga
If the huge funds spent on publication of junk and social life magazines could be diverted into massive awareness in local languages in every community in the world, using all existing information media, I think the Aids scourge will be checked. A deep and clear knowledge of HIV/Aids remains the primary principal heed that should be at the finger tips of mankind.
Abiodun Awonuga, Sovenga, South Africa

The vast majority of Africans are Roman Catholic. The trenchant attitude of this church, and the current Pope, is an absolute disgrace. A positive move here would do a lot in the mid-long term
Matt, Sutton

I remember the Aids campaigns that ran in the UK in the 80s, including the memorable "don't die of ignorance" message. Well, millions in Africa and Asia are dying of ignorance, propagated by Governments, the Catholic Church, and local superstition. The best thing the West can do is make a concerted effort to educate people as to the causes of this terrible condition.
John, England

Lack of sexual education is one part of the problem, and lack of drugs is another. But I see a great danger in the behaviour of local governments and/or religious leaders. Rejecting the number of the victims, or state that condoms are putting our health to a greater level of danger is pure nonsense. Their talking is as dangerous as HIV/Aids itself.
Mary McCannon, Budapest, Hungary

Drugs aren't the answer. They're very dangerous and need constant monitoring by a doctor (not practical in much of the Third world). A cocktail of drugs must be matched to each patient. Not taking the exact course of drugs breeds drug resistant strains of the virus. Aids is incurable... the drugs can't make it go away. The only way to halt the epidemic is to reduce the numbers actually contracting it. That means monogamy and safe sex. Uganda has started doing this and it has the results to prove it works. Anything else, simply, is wrong.
Peter, Nottingham, UK

A lot is being done to try and combat the disease, at least here in Botswana, albeit the intensity of the campaign came rather too late in my opinion. If Asia is beginning to tread Africa's (Botswana's) path of sluggishness in combating the disease when it emerged, then infections would sky-rocket! No country can be blamed for one hard hit by this disease, but when it was first discovered in Botswana, late 80s, where were pundits from the so called developed world?
Sirang, Gaberone, Botswana

So many people are profiting from the Aids Crisis
Anthony Barnes, Geneva
So many people are profiting from the Aids Crisis, especially UNAids, that unlike, say, polio, a vaccine will never be found! The major diseases of Africa, by the way are Malaria, Tuberculosis, and, oddly enough, blood pressure! These kill over two million people a year!
Anthony Barnes, Geneva, Switzerland

If Aids is a problem in Asia, then let their governments deal with it. I'm getting tired of these calls for the world to do something about problems that are the responsibility of sovereign countries.
James Ready, UK (in US)

One idea: If having sex with every Tom, Dick and Harry is made to be viewed as a bad thing, then of course Aids will decrease.
Maria, London, England

Aids is not just transmitted by having sex. Abstaining or not from sex is not the answer to this cruel epidemic. When you have witnessed the death of someone from Aids - the pitiful wasting of a body - then it doesn't matter how it was contracted.

Prescription drugs are a large part of the problem. I just read about a study that was conducted to prove that a three-in-one generic anti-retroviral therapy was as effective as the brand names. But in order to receive FDA approval, the generic drugs must already have been shown to be chemically equivalent to the brand name. In other words, massive amounts of time and money had to be spent proving something that was already known, just because the US government, guided by profit-driven prescription drug makers, felt it needed more proof that cheaper forms of therapy were effective. All this means that more people are suffering and dying in the Third world while people with money and power drag their feet for the sake of greater financial gain.
Sarah Dove, New York City, USA

Gay witch hunt of the 80s led the heterosexuals to believe they were safe from infection
Joseph, UK
Since the mid 80s when the gay plague first really hit the headlines, the number of homosexual diagnosis has steadily decreased whilst heterosexual diagnosis has steadily increased, until in 2002, when the number of heterosexuals diagnosed with HIV was double that of homosexuals. We need only look to media - and tabloids in particular for their gay witch hunt of the 80s - which led the heterosexuals to believe they were safe from infection.

It seems to me that HIV became the forgotten illness until now when an epidemic is forecast for Asia, and numbers of new infections are going to rise around the world as a result. Here we go again, except this time, it's even more deadly because strains being passed on today can be resistant to the combination therapies around because they were transmitted by those already taking combination therapies.
Joseph, UK

Aids is getting worse in Africa due largely to prostitution, rape and above all, unprotected sex by men who'd rather die a slow, lingering death then wear a condom.
Dan, UK

It is a terrible thing to see so many lives destroyed, especially the children orphaned. I guess it will be pretty difficult to stop for they lead very promiscuous lives and that compounds the problem rather seriously. A sad situation without much apparent hope.
Aymon de Tigliettem, Italy

As far as the medical side goes and transmission via sexual activity, I think Aids is being taken very seriously. The word is spreading and information is readily available to anyone. Time and effort is being put into stopping the spread, but it all boils down to whether people are willing to listen and take heed. You can only tell a person to use protection and be safe, but it is up to them whether they use it.
Kaz, Manchester, England

Just refrain from sex till you are married. The fun that you have from all the reckless sex is far less than the pain of combating Aids. A little bit of self control and less desire and can be worth it in the long run.
Jhimli, India

Aids crisis is not taken seriously especially in Africa. The United Nations should do more, it's obvious that they can do better than this.
Bill Okosun, Abuja, Nigeria

If Aids had spread in western countries like it has in Africa and Asia then you know that our governments would be doing more about it. I think it's cruel that we have not provided more help for this epidemic. More sexual health programmes need to be set up so that people can actually protect themselves from it and also dispel some of the myths about Aids as well.
Cat, Cambridge UK

I am from Africa and have lost a lot of family members and friends from Aids and it hurts
Bridget Ingram, Canada
Infection rates are increasing in Asia because of poverty levels that are high and people tend to turn to unsafe sex to get money. The other reason is that the babies being born from infected parents are infected. There is no program in place to screen all pregnant women for Aids in order to save the unborn child and even if there was a program to screen all expecting women there is no medication.

I am from Africa and have lost a lot of family members and friends from Aids and it hurts. The West can help by donating drugs to treat at least even just the pregnant women so that the innocent children born will be born healthy. At least they will be given that 50% chance of being born Aids free.
Bridget Ingram, Canada

In the current era of globalised capitalism, all problems have an economic basis. The Aids crisis is no different: the problem is exacerbated by poverty, lack of resources, lack of education and, unfortunately, bad judgement. And until the economic systems of the world change to allow cheap Aids drugs, free Aids education and a chance to climb out of poverty for more than half of the world's citizens, then the Aids crisis will only increase exponentially.
Kyle D, London, UK

For sure not much is being done to combat this unmerciful epidemic. For heaven sake, let's pay as much attention to combating Aids as that we have paid to combating terrorism since the end result of both of these evils is merciless loss of life.
Chishimba Francis, Rome, Italy

I think the people need to be educated more about HIV and Aids. When people in countries such as South Africa believe that having sex with a virgin will cure them of HIV or Aids, then something is seriously wrong. This belief can only help in the spread of HIV/Aids. Perhaps more reporting within these countries may help with the realisation that people need to take action to protect themselves from infection.
Linda, Hull, UK


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