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The Beginning of The End of AIDS

By Lisa Collier Cool Nov 30, 2012 296 Recommend

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After 30 years and 30 million deaths, the beginning of the end of AIDS may be on the horizon, due amazing scientific breakthroughs, according to a new scientific paper in New England Journal of Medicine. We are at a moment of extraordinary optimism in the response to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the researchers wrote. Fueling hope that devastating epidemic affecting 34 million people around the world will be eradicated during our lifetime are such developments as proven treatments to reduce the risk of sexual transmission by 96 percent, a potentially effective HIV vaccine (still in the study phase), FDA-approval of the first HIV prevention drug (Truvada) this year, and evidence of the first person cured of AIDS (Timothy Brown, also known as the Berlin patient.).

An AIDS-Free Generation is Within Our Reach


We stand at a tipping point in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and working together, we can realize our historic opportunity to bring that fight to an end," President Obama said in a proclamation to mark World AIDS Day on December 1. The U.S. government has unveiled an ambitious global blueprint to help even the hardest-hit countries turn the tide on the epidemic. "An AIDS-free generation is not just a rallying cry it is a goal that is within our reach, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated in the blueprint. New infections in 25 low-and middle-income countries have dropped by 50 percent in recent yearswith the steepest decline in children, showing remarkable progress towards an AIDS-free generation, notes Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Famous Faces of HIV and Aids

When Will We See the Beginning of the End of AIDS?

Every year, 2.5 million new HIV infections occur globally. Yet only 1.4 million of these people are treated with antiviral drugs that could not only save their lives, but also dramatically reduce the danger that they will spread the disease to others, according to a new report from ONE, a global relief organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease. And in the US, one-third of those diagnosed with HIV arent getting any treatment, because they cant afford it, PBS reports. Given these grim statistics, how close are we to seeing the beginning of the end of AIDS, which ONE defines as reaching a point when the annual number of new infections each year is finally surpassed by the number of HIV patients newly added to treatment annually. Based on current rates of progress, well hit that milestone in 2022, the report predicts. However, by working harder to bring the highly effective therapies that can turn HIV/AID into a chronic disease, not a death sentence, to people who need them, the beginning of the end of the epidemic could occur as early as 2015. That would require treating an additional 140,000 people a year and doubling progress on preventing new infectionsa potentially achievable goal, says Erin Hohlfelder, policy director, global health of ONE. The Changing Face of HIV and Aids

Early HIV Treatment Virtually Erases Risk of Transmission


Among the most important advances in prevention and treatment are: The discovery that early treatment of HIV/AIDS infection with antiviral drugs is also an amazingly effective form of prevention, cutting risk for sexual transmission in heterosexual couples by 96 percent. FDA-approval of Truvada, the first drug for prevention of HIV infection. In a study of about 4,700 heterosexual couples in which one partner was HIVpositive, the one-pill combination therapy cut transmission risk by 75 percent. Truvada is approved for patients who are HIV-negative, at high

risk for infection, and may have sex partners who are HIV-positive. Male circumcision is another effective prevention method that lowers the threat of spreading the virus by up to 60 percent. When Hohlfelder recently visited a clinic offering the procedure in sub-Saharan Africa, there was a long line of men ages 12 to 65 to get circumcised because theyve learned how effective this procedure is for prevention. Virtual elimination of mother-baby transmission can be achieved with existing treatment methodswith studies reporting success rates of more than 95 percent.

An Inspiring Success Story


Over the past decade, there has been amazing progress in increased access to treatment. says Hohlfelder. In 2002, only about 300,000 people with the virus were being treated, compared to 8 million today. One of them is Motselisi Thaisi, who was born to an HIV-infected mom in Zambia. The little girl nearly died when she was 11 months old. After getting antiviral treatment at a clinic supported by the Global Fund, Motelisi had a dramatic turnaround in just 90 daysand is now a healthy five-year-old, reports Hohlfelder. Whats also wonderful is that Motelisi now has a baby brother, who is HIV-negative because the kids mom has been treated, an inspiring example of the potential of current treatments to help achieve the vision of an AIDS-free generation of kids, if access to treatment was expanded.

How You Can Help Fight AIDS


For the first time, the donor countries are paying more than half of the cost of treating HIV/AIDS in their population, notes Hohlfelder. These nations are taking over the fight for themselves, but a funding gap of $8 billion remains if were see the end of AIDS by 2015. She suggests these ways to mark World AIDS Day. Let your political representatives know that youd like to see more funding for prevention. Currently, only 0.7 percent of the US budget goes to HIV/AIDS prevention. Your voice is very powerful, says Hohlfelder.

Donate to charities, such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria or buy holiday gifts, from skateboards to watches and electronics, at Product Red, which will donate part of the proceeds to combat AIDS, or ONE.