Selected writings

HIV Prevention: towards the medicalisation of sex?

2010 will be a year to remember for the field of HIV prevention. After decades of interventions with limited results (with the exception of circumcision and the prevention of mother to child HIV transmission), two clinical studies are raising the hope that the HIV epidemic can be tamed.

In July, the CAPRISA team (based in South Africa) reported that a vaginal gel containing the anti HIV drug tenofovir could reduce the risk of HIV infection by 39%. This was the first proof of concept that a microbicide could potentially reduce the risk of HIV infection whilst offering women an HIV prevention tool that they could control.

In November of the same year, the iPrEx study conducted on a population at high-risk of infection showed that taking the anti HIV Drug Truvada reduced the risk of contracting the virus by an average of 44 percent.

Both studies are hailed as a milestone and landmark in the history of HIV prevention and expectations are high that HIV prevention will finally mean more than the ABC of ‘Abstinence, condom and faithfulness’. But despite the hope, neither approach will immediately translate into marketable products as there are a number of questions that needs answering before microbicide and PrEP are available to the public. (more…)

Selected writings

A funding struggle for an HIV prevention in women’s hands

Attendees at the 18th International AIDS conference held in Vienna in July 2010 felt a tremor of hope when Prof. Salim Abdool Karim received a standing ovation following the announcement that a vaginal gel containing the anti-HIV drug tenofovir could reduce the risk of HIV infection by 39%. The groundbreaking results came out of the CAPRISA clinical trial conducted amongst 900 women in rural Vulindela district (KwaZulu-Natal) and urban Durban, South Africa. Euphoria followed in the audience, online and later in the printed media. After 30 years of limited success, the field of HIV prevention could potentially add a new powerful tool to circumcision, condoms, and the prevention of mother to child transmission. Most remarkably, that tool is in women’s hands and the story could unfold with even more good news if it weren’t for a small setback: funding the next clinical studies. (more…)

Selected writings

A Sustainable Globalisation?

washington vs Geneva ConsensusGlobalisation has been the buzzword of the roaring nineties and with the fall of the Berlin’s wall, the end of the cold war and the victory of capitalism over socialism it has opened a new era in human history. Rightly or not, globalisation has become synonymous with market economy, capitalism and development. Much discussions, books and movies have placed it at the centre of the debate about the future of development with a “New Deal” or a “New Barbarism” as two possible scenarios. As the Washington Consensus is being challenged by the Geneva Consensus, the possibility of a sustainable globalisation, conducive to social justice, human security and environmental protection, being an unrealisable goal is a question of great contemporary interest. To address this question we will examine how globalisation affects social justice, human security and the environment. We will then introduce different views and responses to the globalisation process, which when integrated altogether will provide a framework to answer the question of realizing a sustainable globalisation. (more…)

Selected writings

Challenges facing the UK Research Base

The academic year 2007 started with a “Time Bomb” uncovered by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI): student in England are having it the easy way with an average of 26 hours a week spent studying compared to 30 in Ireland, 35 in France and 41 in Portugal. Variations are wide depending on the subject but with less than 15 hours of tuition a week, fears and concerns are raised that Higher Education is going down the drain and will have serious academic consequences for the future of Science in the UK. (more…)

Selected writings

Gendering the Fight against Aids

Two strong messages have emerged from the 16th International Aids Conference in Toronto, Canada. The first is that with drug treatment now being rolled out in developing countries, prevention should return to centre stage in future policies and strategies. The second is that women’s lives and status need to be improved and that women need to be given power to prevent HIV infection.

Both messages were embodied in Bill Gates’s keynote speech:

“We need to put the power to prevent HIV in the hands of women. This is true whether the woman is a faithful married mother of small children or a sex worker trying to scrape out a living in a slum. No matter where she lives or what she does, a woman should never need her partner’s permission to save her own life.” (more…)

Selected writings

French Fries and Fat Kids – Asia’s next Epidemic

Popular belief has it that obesity only affects wealthier societies where food is plentiful: the curse of the developed world epitomized by hulking Americans that struggle to order their king-size Big Mac, French Fries and Coke without breaking sweat.

Obesity is no longer exclusive to the developed world

The reality is a very different. Obesity and its associated diseases – diabetes, hypertension and kidney diseases – respect neither wealth nor class and strike instead into the heart of every society where there is easy access to convenience food, low physical activity and ubiquitous advertisements for sugar-fat-salt-rich food. (more…)

Selected writings

Wealth versus Health – the Thai Frontier

In the battle against HIV and AIDS, Thailand has been exemplary: since 2001, the AIDS death rate there has fallen by 79 percent, thanks to the supply of low-priced locally produced generic drugs and the 30-Baht universal health care scheme. But this success story is about to be challenged by the United States-Thai Free Trade Agreement (FTA) currently under negotiation, which includes restrictive intellectual property rights, and will put at risk the survival of hundreds of thousands of Thai people living with HIV, and beyond Thailand, the survival of millions who will be affected by the Thai precedent. (more…)