Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dr. Francois Venter, Treatment Activist, Responds......

Here's a reply by Dr. Francois Venter, president of the Southern Africans HIV Clinicians Society and an old friend, to my "AIDS Cure: Good... AIDS Prevention: Better" posting yesterday.

From Dr. Venter:
"Maybe not (totally) crazy - I am scared that the biomedical stuff won't provide the solution fast enough, and that a partial biological prevention solution is decades away.
But the cause:effect is easy to measure with biological interventions. The prevention interventions are so woolly that for someone like me who needs things preceisely described it needs very careful boxing. Add to this that prevention studies notoriously measure surrogates like behavioural change, rather than the real thing we're interested in - new HIV infections - makes it hard for empiricists to take it seriously. I don't dispute the mysterious decrease in infection rates above [in Uganda and Zimbabawe]- I just don't understand how the behaviour change (and I'm still unsure that partner reduction is the explanation, although agree it seems to be the most likely) was effected. The question remains: What behaviour do we need changing? and in some way, the second question is harder: How do you do that?"
If there are other thoughts out there, I'm happy to post them here as well. I'd like this to be a conversation....

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