Will 90-90-90 end decades of stigmatizing and dangerous misinformation?
If WHO’s AIDS experts and bureaucrats had set out to promote stigma against Africans with HIV and to ensure tens of millions of Africans get HIV from unsuspected blood-borne risks, they couldn’t have done much better than what have been doing for decades – focusing HIV prevention messages almost exclusively on sex.
Exclusive focus on sex hurts people and families
Will 90-90-90 empower people to demand balanced prevention messages?
With more people getting tested, more people will learn they or their relatives or friends are HIV-positive without any sex or mother-to-baby risks. In other countries, people with unexpected infections have demanded government to investigated. So far, no such public discussions have developed in sub-Saharan Africa. Will more testing lead to more public discussion that will force governments to do their job, to investigated to protect public health?
More awareness of non-sexual infections may also take some of the stigmatizing sting out of infections. Being HIV-positive will no longer be accepted as a sign of sexual misbehavior.
If 90-90-90 makes Africans aware of blood-borne risks, this is decades late. In 1991, WHO published a small booklet warning UN employees about blood-borne risks in Africa. Here’s a quote from the 2004 revision of that booket: “unsafe blood collection and transfusion practices and the use of contaminated syringes account for a notable share of new infections”.
1. Page 9 in UNAIDS, 2004, Living in a World with HIV and AIDS. Available at: http://data.unaids.org/publications/irc-pub06/jc975-livinginworldaids_en.pdf