Saturday 24 Oct 2020 | 23:17 | SYDNEY
Saturday 24 Oct 2020 | 23:17 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: HIV in Indonesia


Sam Roggeveen


25 March 2008 11:57

Dave Burrows of AIDS Projects Management Group writes:

I appreciate Peter McCawley's difficulty in seeing the need for ongoing funding for HIV programs in Indonesia. I've been working on HIV internationally since 1996 and I've lost count of the number of times I've faced this argument, lost it and watched as thousands or millions became HIV-positive.
A classic example was Russia in the mid-1990s. No one could deny the country had a broad range of very profound problems, including enormous health problems. When I and others discussed the impact of a HIV epidemic (then as now largely driven by needle sharing among drug users), I was told: 'You cannot seriously expect us to give needles to junkies while the old people have nothing to eat'.
And indeed, they didn't. Current estimates are that Russia has well over 1 million people living with HIV, and there will probably be another 1-2 million infected before prevention efforts (which remain underfunded and under-emphasised as there's always some issue that governments would prefer to deal with other than HIV) finally start to slow the spread of HIV.
If you look at the size of Indonesia, its geography, its close links with the only epidemic in our part of the world which will almost certainly reach sub-Saharan African levels (PNG), enormous social upheavals in recent decades, high levels of teenage sex and drug use, I would argue for more funding rather than less.
And, no our company has no HIV contracts in Indonesia.