Washington, May 1 : A leading researcher from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has cautioned that social factors, including economic pressures, caused by climate change may in turn elevate HIV infection rates world-wide.
Daniel Tarantola, Professor of Health and Human Rights at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, has said that in order to prevent a dramatic escalation of the HIV epidemic as well as other health problems, the world has to address the HIV problem in developing countries.
"It was clear soon after the emergence of the HIV epidemic that discrimination, gender inequality and lack of access to essential services have made some populations more vulnerable than others. These problems have not gone away," said Professor Tarantola.
He added: "Today, additional threats are lurking on the horizon as the global economic situation deteriorates, food scarcity worsens and climate change begins to affect those who were already dependent on survival economies. The same is true for climate change. Climate change will trigger a chain of events which is likely to increase the stress on society and result in higher vulnerability to diseases including HIV."
"Science has achieved great strides towards shaping a more effective response to HIV. Yet research has not succeeded in producing the hoped-for 'magic bullets' of either a cure or a vaccine," said Professor David Cooper AO, Director of UNSW's National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research (NCHECR).
He added: "We need to escalate our research efforts while sustaining and expanding what we know works: good prevention and access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy and integrated care."
Professor Tarantola joined a panel of top HIV researchers to address the topic "A Future Free of HIV" at UNSW on April 30.