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Don’t overlook condoms for HIV prevention
  1. P J Feldblum,
  2. M J Welsh,
  3. M J Steiner
  1. Family Health International, PO Box 13950, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
    Paul Feldblum, Family Health International, PO Box 13950, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA;
    pfeldblum{at}fhi.org

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The attention of the international community is being diverted from the hard work of primary prevention

The 2002 international AIDS conference highlighted tremendous clamour for antiretroviral therapy, while little attention was paid to primary prevention by behavioural intervention. The international community seems diverted from the hard work of primary prevention, but progress on treatment access must not come at the expense of prevention by behaviour change, including condom promotion. Condoms are effective for HIV prevention. Targeted condom programmes can be extremely cost effective. The provision of condoms to those most in need remains hindered by multiple hurdles, including provider bias, ready physical access, and myth/rumour. Still, hopes for better access to HIV treatment in the future cannot divert us from the prevention needs of the present. We urge donors to do more now to learn how best to promote condoms as part of a package of comprehensive primary HIV prevention through behaviour change.

The number of condoms procured by leading donors has diminished over the past 5 years, and was no greater in 2000 than it was in 1990.

About 3.5 million new HIV infections occurred worldwide in 2001.1 The number of HIV infected people in Africa has approximately doubled since 1996. How should we assign priorities in our response to the pandemic? At the 2002 international AIDS conference in Barcelona, the greatest clamour was for antiretroviral therapy (ART); the loudest advocacy was that lack of access to ART in resource poor settings must change.2 Little attention was paid to primary prevention by behavioural intervention. Using the CD Rom …

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