Building the evidence base for HIV/AIDS interventions that work and don't work, and then what?

May 23, 2006

Raging debates about the need for evidence-based funding and programming in public health persist, especially in the area of HIV/AIDS. Yet few efforts have assessed and documented interventions in a systematic and comprehensive way. Dean Jamison and Nancy Padian in the Washington Post report that the second edition of the Disease Control Priorities Project provides us with this much needed evidence, in the form of a set of tested and proven interventions to control the spread of HIV:

Last month public health experts from around the world gathered in Beijing to celebrate the launch of a comprehensive international study of health interventions and strategies for the 21st century. The book that resulted is known as Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries, second edition (DCP2). In over 1,400 pages of research by more than 300 authors, it presents the scientific community's cutting-edge understanding of the most and least effective ways of meeting the health challenges the developing world faces. It includes the cost and effectiveness of 319 preventive and curative interventions, ranging from immunization to bypass surgery. The global epidemic of HIV/AIDS remains the most critical health challenge in much of the developing world. DCP2 presents a set of proven, affordable, effective strategies that developing countries can use to bring AIDS under control, as well as those now known to be less effective or ineffective. These conclusions represent the consensus of scientific opinion from around the world.
Finally, we have documented scientific evidence that some strategies work better than others, how much they cost and how effective they are. What remains to be seen is how this evidence is used effectively to inform funding and programming decisions for HIV/AIDS. Will science prevail?


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