more than just treatment . . .

Here’s an interesting article from today’s Washington Post:

Spread of AIDS in Africa Is Outpacing Treatment

Basically, new infections are happening faster than people can get treatment in Africa—even though the number of Africans taking antiretrovirals (ARVs) has increased 1300% since 2004.

According to the UN, for every South African who gained access to ARVs last year, five more contracted HIV.

Make no mistake, the increasing accessibility (and decreasing cost) of ARVs is making a difference. It’s saving lives every day.

Yet the Post says that millions more are being infected because there hasn’t been enough of a corresponding investment in changing behaviors like having multiple sexual partners.

Some might argue that behavioral change is unrealistic—even an arrogant expectation.

Try telling that to the people of Uganda, who’ve seen their country’s HIV prevalence decline from 15% to less than 7% over the last 15 years or so. Experts disagree, but many believe that the Uganda’s decrease in multiple sexual partnerships was one of the most important factors in the successful reduction of its HIV rate.

So what does it say about our faith in the people of Africa if we write off behavioral change as an unrealistic or unattainable goal? It may be that failing to promote positive behavioral change is not only shortsighted; it may be an insult to the very people we mean to help.

Let’s give the people of Africa the best chance of beating AIDS; let’s invest in both increased access to life-saving medicine and positive behavioral change.