Document Type: Commentary
U.S. Military HIV Research Program, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, MD, USA
Henry M. Jackson Foundation, Bethesda, MD, USA
Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA
In this commentary, we elaborate on the main points that Karamouzian and colleagues have made about HIV data scarcity in Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries. Without accessible and reliable data, no epidemic can be managed effectively or efficiently. Clearly, increased investments are needed to bolster capabilities to capture and interpret HIV surveillance data. We believe that this enhanced capacity can be achieved, in part, by leveraging and repurposing existing data platforms, technologies and patient cohorts. An immediate modest investment that capitalizes on available infrastructure can generate data on the HIV burden and spread that can be persuasive for MENA policy-makers to intensify efforts to track and contain the growing HIV epidemic in this region. A focus on key populations will yield the most valuable data, including among men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender women and men, persons who inject drugs (PWIDs), female partners of high risk men and female sex workers.