Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A world without AIDS?

I was in medical school when we learned of Haitian men and San Francisco gay men with strange skin lesions and odd pneumonias.

We learned a lot very quickly, but none of it was very good. By the late 1980s to early 1990s many people, myself included, expected vast numbers of deaths in Africa.

Over the past decade though, the tide has slowly turned, until today I read ...
BBC NEWS | Many more receiving HIV therapy

... Testing is the gateway to treatment, and in many areas facilities providing this service increased by about 35%, noted the Towards Universal Access report which looked at 158 countries.

'An Aids free generation is no longer an impossibility - the elimination of vertical transmission is in sight,' said Jimmy Kolker, head of the HIV/Aids division at UNICEF....
Recent glimmers of hope on immunization, and confirmation of the protective effects of circumcision must also be contributing to this new optimism. Perversely, the impending extinction of our fellow primates will also reduce exposure to HIV reservoirs.

Great credit must go to all of those, African and otherwise, who fought for the widespread dissemination of treatment to impoverished nations against great skepticism about its efficacy and the fears of drug manufacturers.

This is not, of course, the same as curing AIDS. This is about preventing transmission of the virus within the human population, until transmission is so rare that the disease is effectively eliminated.

I expect I'll live to see it happen.

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