Harold Pollack on the stalled HIV prevention fight

Harold Pollack, PhD

Harold Pollack, PhD

Last week in the Washington Post, Harold Pollack, Helen Ross professor at the School of Social Service Administration, writes about the stalled HIV prevention fight in the US. After a big drop in the number of new HIV infections in the early 1990s, the rate has remained nearly unchanged at around 50,000 new cases a year for the past 20 years. Even more troubling, he writes, is that proven prevention programs that could save lives and long term health care costs have suffered drastic budget cuts:

It’s hard to directly assess the epidemiological impact of such budget cuts. One useful, necessarily speculative study appeared this year. Feng Lin and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explored the consequences of the 70 percent, $16 million decline in funding forn HIV prevention over much of California. The authors estimated that funding cuts prevented public health authorities from identifying 348 HIV-infected people and that 8,000 fewer clients were provided prevention services. An estimated 55 people contracted HIV who would otherwise have remained uninfected. Yes, the lifetime treatment for those who could have avoided infection might well exceed the original $16 million in funding. That’s hardly the most foolish aspect of such policies.

For more on one of the prevention programs Pollack mentions in his Post article, read about his research on the role of dentists in preventing HIV, from Science Life last March.

About Matt Wood (514 Articles)

Matt Wood is a senior science writer at the University of Chicago Medicine and nonfiction editor for Another Chicago Magazine.

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