In November 2008, an article was published in the renowned medical journal, the Lancet, that proposed a mathematical model that could virtually eliminate HIV transmission in the future and reduce the number of people developing AIDS by 95%. The article called for universal testing and immediate initiation of ART upon learning one’s HIV-positive status. The article sparked heated debate between AIDS activists and organizations.
‘UNIVERSAL VOLUNTARY HIV TESTING WITH IMMEDIATE ANTIRETROVIRAL THERAPY AS A STRATEGY FOR ELIMINATION OF HIV TRANSMISSION: A MATHEMATICAL MODEL’
In November 2008, an article was published in the renowned medical journal, the Lancet. The article is co-authored by Reuben Granich, Kevin de Cock and Charlie Gilks. The authors of the article are leading members of World Health Organization (WHO) HIV and TB team, but the study is an independent work that has not been endorsed by the WHO. Based on computer modeling, the authors argued that universal HIV testing, followed by the immediate initiation of ART for those who were HIV-positive, could virtually eliminate HIV transmission in the future and reduce the number of people developing AIDS by 95%.
The article aroused heated debate amongst HIV activists, healthcare workers, scientists and officials at organizations like UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO). The debate focused on the human rights implications of the implementation of universal mandatory testing, the potential criminalisation of HIV transmission, and the lack of consideration given to the negative outcomes proven to be associated with universal mandatory HIV testing. However debaters agreed that it is essential that new information that presents the possibility of a solution to HIV epidemic must be seriously considered and researched.
The WHO will hold a consultation in Geneva to discuss the implications of the article. From 28 – 30 April, TAC representatives attended a meeting organized by the AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa (ARASA) and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) in Johannesburg to discuss the article and to formulate a position with other Southern African HIV activists. This position will be presented at the WHO meeting in Geneva. TAC’sbriefing on the article is being finalized, and district workshops are planned to discuss the contents of the article and the responses of TAC members to the strategies it proposes. Please click here for TAC’s full brief and response.