Single-policy Aids approach under fire

June 6, 1997

The World Health Organisation's "McDonald's-style" approach to dealing with Aids came under attack at a conference in Kingston, Ontario, in Canada.

The ten-day summit of 35 international Aids scholars and activists was aimed at moving the microscope away from Aids as a medical issue and to focus more on the human side of the pandemic.

American Cindy Patton, who teaches lesbian and gay studies at Emory University in Atlanta and who has worked with WHO, criticised the "McDonald's-style education of trying too hard to come up with one policy for all".

She said the most important education measure is one that can help keep a community's structure in place. "The project should help lead to a good quality of life and lower the amount of isolation," she said.

The group, many of whom are involved in putting together education programmes, met to identify new directions for community-based organisations.

"The sense is that every possible format has been tried," said Professor Patton, who is one of a breed of academics straddling the line between academia and activism. Many at the conference have worked with various communities to help them develop Aids strategies.

One of the conference organisers, Jacqueline Murray, said the work from researchers in the humanities and social sciences "can help contribute to our overall understanding of Aids and be complementary to the medical and epidemiological work being done".

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