Assistant Secretary Dr. Howard Koh Highlights Drug Prevention Month

Last month, Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, spoke with R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), about drug prevention during the observance of Prevention Month. You can watch their discussion at the ONDCP Web site.

I want to highlight that to help reduce the number of new HIV infections, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy calls for giving much more attention and resources to the populations at highest risk of HIV, including substance abusers. Among the many benefits of preventing drug use, before it starts or stepping in early before substance use becomes chronic, is reducing the individual’s risk of exposure to HIV and other dangerous infections like Hepatitis C. This highlights the complementary nature of both the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the National Drug Control Strategy, and the government-wide efforts underway to implement both. Dr. Koh recently wrote an ONDCP guest blog post about this topic as well.


  1. Sr. Dympna Haber, RSHM says:

    We have religious sisters in my community working in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique where AIDS is nearly at the pandemic level. I have seen the call by UNITAIDS to pharmaceutical companies to ask them to form patent pools to reduce the cost of the new ARV’s, most of which seem to be used in combination with protease inhibitors. Evidently these new medications have fewer initial side effects and enable the patients to be more faithful in taking them regularly (if they can afford them), and thus reduce the possibility of further mutation of the AIDS retrovirus, which would require more new medications.
    How can we form advocacy groups to pressure pharmaceutical companies with life-giving remedies to pool their patents, not just for those where AIDS is a pandemic, but also for those who need the most help, e.g. substance abusers. It is a difficult situation, for there is no profit to pharmaceutical companies helping those who cannot increase their economic status, but it would certainly help the whole world if more people could get AIDS, as a disease, under control.
    I am very aware that the AIDS situation is very complex – victims of the disease must have proper nutrition and be faithful to taking medicine, and live in a way that does not affect others – a huge expense and educational task. But, how do we advocate to make the life of AIDS victims more feasible, and bring their children to life without the disease unless we make the medications more tolerable for sufferers and more affordable?

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