US and Zimbabwean press weigh in on PLoS Medicine article

Last Tuesday we published a Policy Forum article discussing the “remarkable” decline of HIV in Zimbabwe. It drew upon three primary studies by the same authors to explain the reported decline in estimated adult HIV prevalence from 29% in 1997 to 16% in 2007. Undoubtedly any declines have occurred in the context of severe social, political, and economic disruption in this south African country, and so it was expected that the article would generate debate as had occurred when reports of HIV declines in Uganda and Thailand were released.

The PLoS Medicine article’s metrics show that it has been read a lot, and we were pleased to see it covered by major North American news outlets such as The New York Times and Voice of America with quotes from the authors.

But I also wondered about the African press coverage, and there was some. The Zimbabwean, a international newspaper, published a news article summarising the article and putting it in further context. Some people, reports the article, “have criticized the report, saying it ignores many factors related to the ongoing political, economic and social crisis that has engulfed Zimbabwe since 2000.” The report quotes Emmanuel Gasa, director of The AIDS and Arts Foundation (TAAF), as saying that the research failed to “take into account the many infected Zimbabweans who cannot afford to travel to clinics to be evaluated.”

The Voice of America article quoted the Zimbabwe Director of the Southern Africa HIV & AIDS Information Dissemination Service, Monica Mandiki, as saying that “Zimbabwe must scale up its campaign against HIV/AIDS to avoid backsliding on its progress.”

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