The World Health Organization has issued a statement on its website (, 6/11), in response to criticisms following a recent media report in which its HIV/AIDS director, Kevin De Cock, stated that AIDS should not be considered a concern for heterosexuals outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

An article in London’s The Independent newspaper quoted De Cock as saying, “It is very unlikely there will be a heterosexual [HIV] epidemic in other countries.”

According to the WHO statement, the article in The Independent “contained a few seriously misleading statements that have led to inferences and conclusions that bear no relation to the highly complex realities of the HIV epidemic.”

Signed by De Cock and Paul De Lay, director of the Department of Evidence, Monitoring and Policy at UNAIDS, the statement says that both the WHO and UNAIDS are “focused on strengthening monitoring of the epidemic to refine responses further and to recognize changes in transmission patterns should they occur.”