Leveraging the HIV Response for Stronger Pandemic Preparedness

Annette Sohn
Annette Sohn, M.D.
Vice President and Director, TREAT Asia

What we learned from responding to the AIDS pandemic over four decades helped us respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it can help us with the next threat—and the next.

A recent article in PLoS Global Public Health, co-authored by Annette Sohn, M.D., vice president and director of amfAR’s TREAT Asia program, outlines the ways in which pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPR) might be strengthened by capitalizing on the synergies created by health infrastructure established to respond to HIV. This ranges from disease surveillance and biomedical research to the front lines of healthcare and pharmaceutical manufacturing and its supply chain.

Lessons that HIV taught us about global solidarity, political commitments, governance, and financial investments may also be applied to future pandemics. An HIV-informed PPR would also make sure that universal health access without discrimination, as well as building trust and engaging communities, are essential to public health.

“Robust pandemic preparedness will not be achieved merely by creating a new fund or enacting a new treaty,” the authors write. “While working to mobilize new resources for PPR, decision-makers should strategically leverage existing programs—including HIV programming—that help build secure, resilient and prepared health systems.”

Lastly, as we build upon the HIV response, we need to make sure that we are not leaching resources away from the HIV response. Why? “Though the HIV response is a model, its success is incomplete, with 1.5 million new HIV infections annually, 10 million living with HIV still not receiving treatment and unequal access to care for marginalized individuals.”

Read the article here.

Share This: