Setting Priorities for HIV/AIDS Interventions
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Setting Priorities for HIV/AIDS Interventions

A Cost–Benefit Approach

Robert J. Brent

HIV/AIDS is much too complex a phenomenon to be understood only by reference to common sense and ethical codes. This book presents the cost–benefit analysis (CBA) framework in a well-researched and accessible manner to ensure that the most important considerations are recognized and incorporated.
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Chapter 3: Myths and Misinformation

Robert J. Brent


CBA attempts to quantify the benefits and costs of any intervention. It does not just assume that these benefits and costs are known. In the case of HIV/AIDS this is very important as there is a lot of information circulated that is either misunderstood or flat out false. In part, this is due to the stigma associated with the disease, which makes denial very prevalent. If people say that they are not HIV positive, or do not know (or do not want to know) whether they are HIV positive, how can one know what is best in terms of treatment or prevention? In part, the lack of knowledge is an inherent ingredient of HIV/AIDS as it is especially complex, both biologically and socially. One sign of the biological complexity is that AIDS is not a clearly specified condition in itself. If your immune system is compromised due to HIV you become susceptible to a number of opportunistic infections – for generalized epidemics it is likely to be TB, while in localized outbreaks it may be some rare forms of cancer of the blood (such as Kaposi’s sarcoma) or rare kinds of pneumonia (such as pneumocystis pneumonia, PCP). So when someone “dies of AIDS” it may not always be recorded as AIDS and could be classed by the proximate cause of death, for example, as due to TB. An example of the social complexity of the disease is that, prior to ARVs, the disease AIDS would normally follow HIV only after a...

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