By Kerry Cullinan Health-e News Service.
Within three weeks, the country’s top HIV/AIDS scientists will present the
Department of Health with a range of recommendations on how to deal with
This follows last week’s HIV Summit in Vanderbijlpark, convened by the
Department of Health and Health Systems Trust, which brought together over 100
HIV/AIDS scientists and government officials for the first time.
Recommendations will be clustered into 16 different topics, based on themes
discussed at the summit. These include anti-retroviral treatment, infant feeding
methods for HIV positive mothers; HIV and child nutrition; the treatment of
opportunistic infections such as TB and post-exposure prophylaxis for rape
Anti-retroviral treatment is receiving the most attention from the
scientists, with six of the 16 topics focusing on different aspects of it. Focus
areas include drug toxicity, the safety of long-term ARV treatment in children,
how to choose patients for ARV therapy and how to ensure adherence to treatment.
Describing the meeting as "highly positive and constructive", the
scientists acknowledged in a press statement that "while some
recommendations were non-contentious, others will require on-going dialogue
between researchers, civil society organisations and government".
However, they stated that they hoped the summit "represents the
beginning of a constructive and more structured process for continued
interaction between the scientific community and government". They also
said that the "wealth of research capacity in this country" needed to
be better co-ordinated and clinical research needed to be linked to
"economic, social science, health systems and policy research".
Scientists involved in developing the policies include head of the HIV
Clinicians Society Dr Des Martins, Wits University’s Prof James McIntyre, Prof
Helen Rees and Dr Glenda Gray, UCT’s Prof Greg Hussey, Dr Lynne Denny, Dr
Linda Gail-Becker and the University of Natal’s Prof Slim Abdool Karim, Prof
Jerry Coovadia, Dr Anna Coutsoudis and Dr Daya Moodley and UWC’s Prof Dave
Saunders. The Treatment Action Campaign’s Nathan Geffen and Medicins sans
Frontieres Dr Eric Goemare are also represented. – Health-e News Service.