Friday, October 12, 2007

Combating HIV/AIDS in developing countries: Requires empowering people to act on their own terms

Authors: Jennifer Prah Ruger
BMJ. 2004 July 17; 329(7458): 121–122. doi: 10.1136/bmj.329.7458.121.
PMCID: 478206

Description: Focusing on prevention of HIV and on expanding access to antiretroviral treatment for people living with AIDS is critically important to the fight against HIV/AIDS, but alone this strategy is not enough to tackle the problem. Combating HIV/AIDS in low and middle income countries requires more than prevention and treatment—important as this two pronged strategy is. It requires improving the conditions under which people are free to choose safer life strategies and conditions for themselves and future generations. An alternative view of the HIV/AIDS problem recognizes the inter-relatedness of health and other valuable social ends (for example, education, employment, or civil rights) and also emphasises the importance of individual agency or freedom—that is, people’s ability to act and bring about change in terms of their own values and objectives and thus to live a life they value— for the prevention and treatment of disease.2–6 Freedom is essential for both individual and collective action and is critical for changing policy, norms, and social commitments.2 These key elements are part of an alternative way of thinking about HIV/AIDS policy. Fulltext

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