The ICAP-sponsored August 2011 _Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS)_ Supplement entitled “Bridging the Divide” was launched at the IAS Conference in Rome. Wafaa El-Sadr, ICAP Director, Miriam Rabkin, ICAP Director for Health Systems Strategies, Rifat Atun from the Global Fund, and Kevin DeCock from the Global Health Center at the CDC served as guest editors. The supplement contains 5 articles with ICAP co-editors.
As the editors note in the Supplement introduction, the $15 billion invested over less than a decade has led to a dramatic increase in access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment services in low- and middle-income countries. Over five million people are now receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in low- and middle-income countries, “a number that would have seemed like an impossible dream at the turn of the century when only about 100,000 had access to these lifesaving medications.” Although much remains to be done–ART coverage is still only about 30 percent in sub-Saharan Africa–the scale-up of ART has also made possible the provision of complex continuity care to some of the world’s poorest communities. “More than this, these achievements have changed the way we think about global health.”
El-Sadr _et al_. point to the fact that there are a multitude of “divides” in the field of global health, including the divide between interest in HIV services versus interest in maternal and child health (MCH), non-communicable diseases, or other specific health conditions, the divide between expertise in HIV programming versus expertise in health systems and economics, and the divide between policy makers concerned with reaching the Millennium Development Goals versus those focused on achievement of HIV-related targets. The recognition of the profound impact of these divides and the potential benefits in overcoming them and working together towards mutual goals motivated this Supplement.
El-Sadr _et al_. note that, “We need to bridge the divides that separate us to ensure constructive debates that move us forward in the fight against HIV and toward confronting other health threats…Through efforts, such as the ones advanced by the authors in this Supplement, we can effectively bridge the divides to foster collaboration, and gain deeper insights, that will enable us to achieve expanded access to lifesaving interventions and improved health outcomes for all.”