Peter Piot: ‘Progress in African AIDS epidemic not enough’

“Even if we’ve made really serious progress in the fight against AIDS, the glass is half full. We still have a long way to go,” said UNAID’s Peter Piot. Piot’s been on the front lines of the fight against AIDS in Africa for three decades.

Peter Piot: Even if we’ve made really serious progress in the fight against AIDS, the glass is half full. We still have a long way to go.

That’s Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations. He’s been on the front lines of the fight against AIDS in Africa for three decades.

Peter Piot: In terms of treatment, less than half of those in need in the world – and there are 7 million who need treatment – are on anti-retroviral therapy. That means if they don’t get access, they will die. We need to make sure also that we reach all those who need access to prevention.

Piot said the progress made so far has come from strong leadership — and money.

Peter Piot: Will the leadership continue? Because political leadership is a key factor in making sure there is money, there is a community mobilization.

Piot told EarthSky that sustainability in the AIDS campaign involves combating not just the disease itself, but also social causes at the root of the disease.

Peter Piot: Will we finally address what is driving this epidemic. For example, the inferior position of women in many countries, the fact that there are huge inequalities. These are questions for the future we have to address now.

Dr. Piot has also worked with other African diseases. For example, after graduating from medical school, he co-discovered the Ebola virus in Zaire in 1976.

Piot spoke of what he calls ‘sustainability’ in the fight against AIDS.

Peter Piot: Sustainability means we need to take a long-term view and long-term action when it comes to AIDS now, not only dealing with the crisis today.

He spoke of a lack of resources for many African mothers.

Peter Piot: Only 1 in 10 mothers who are HIV positive have drugs to make sure they don’t transmit to their baby.

Our thanks to:
Dr. Peter Piot

Executive Director, UNAIDS
Under-Secretary General, United Nations

Image Photo: khym54

Lindsay Patterson