HIV testing in France: “There’s a lack of political leadership concerning AIDS” says Prof. Willy Rozenbaum
Professor Willy Rozenbaum, President of the French National AIDS Council (CNS), and who has been involved in the fight against AIDS since 1981, is not happy and he wants people to know it. In an urgent manner, the CNS organized yesterday a press conference to rant about the draft version of 2010-2014’s French National Plan against AIDS. According to Rozenbaum, the project “does not meet the current challenges of the epidemic” and therefore a thorough revision of the document is needed. As stated in the recommendations of the CNS and of the National Health Conference, that issued their analysis of the project yesterday morning, the French Department of Health and the French government do not engage in any politics that could allow to “rapidly decrease the numbers of new infections in all population groups”.
A STRATEGY THAT COMBINES HIV TESTING AND TREATMENT
How should the problem be approached? By implementing a strategy that would combine HIV testing and treatment: in France, one person in two has late access to testing and care, leading to serious consequences for themselves and for public health. A study cited by Professor Rozenbaum estimated that at the end of 2008, 50,000 HIV-positives in France were unaware of their status and were therefore the origin of 70% of new infections. According to the CNS, in order to move forward against the epidemic, it is necessary to “broaden the offer of screening to the entire population, without the notion of risk exposure”. The CNS also addressed severe critics to the incoherence of the French public policies and the lack of ambition towards international aid to poor countries.
“NO PILOT ON THE PLANE”
Every expert in France and abroad agrees on the strategy of mass HIV testing and access to care as soon as possible. Interviewed by Yagg, Bruno Spire, president of the French non-profit organization AIDES, is also harsh on the government: “There is no pilot on the plane, Spire explains. There is a lack of coherence, the measures are juxtaposed to each other”. In a joint press release, Jean-Luc Romero, French activist against AIDS, and Jean-Paul Huchon, President of the regional council for Ile-de-France, denounced a “missed chance”: “The answers of the plan, copy-pasted from the previous one, are not up to the great challenges of prevention”.
“MAKING AIDS DISAPPEAR”
In an article published on Saturday in the French newspaper Libération, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, in a message to the leaders of the G20, made a similar plea: “The implementation of a system of HIV screening and immediate care is a moral necessity. We have a historic opportunity: in a few years, we could make AIDS disappear from the surface of the globe”.
In Yagg’s video interview, Professor Willy Rozenbaum states nothing different when he denounces the lack of political leadership concerning AIDS and explains that investing in screening today will have an impact very soon. We will know in the next days if this mobilization of experts and activists, including the involvement of the First Lady, will have served as a warning and therefore allow a thorough plan’s redesign.
If you want to see the interview click on Dépistage du VIH: interview Yagg de Willy Rozenbaum, CNS