Paul Farmer Stresses Need to Include Treatment in AIDS Prevention Efforts
Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard University physician and medical anthropologist who operates an AIDS clinic in Haiti, said on Thursday that experience has taught him that providing antiretroviral drugs to people in developing nations is "workable and necessary," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. In a speech at the University of Washington, Farmer said that HIV prevention and treatment efforts must be offered in tandem and that it is "unwise" to exclude treatment from prevention programs. Farmer cited his Clinique Bon Sauveur as an example of how offering treatment can bolster prevention efforts. When the clinic first opened, it offered free HIV testing, but Farmer said there was "little interest" in the service among community members. However, when the clinic began offering zidovudine -- an antiretroviral drug used to treat HIV infection -- more people became interested in getting tested for the virus. "If people think treatment is available, there is a lot more interest in prevention," Farmer said. Farmer added that wealthy nations have an "ethical obligation" to help provide treatment for people in poorer countries, according to the Post-Intelligencer (Paulson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/15).