Tomorrow is World AIDS Day and most organizations that had something to say about this have already said it.
Most said: “We can end AIDS.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for creating an “AIDS-free generation” and on Thursday released the Obama Administration’s blueprint aimed at describing how we can achieve this. Unfortunately, as the Washington Post noted:
The document, however, contains no specific targets or a schedule for achieving them. It also doesn’t estimate how much more money it would cost to reach the “tipping point” in high-prevalence countries, or where the money would come from.
Michele Sidibé, head of UNAIDS (the UN’s program on HIV/AIDS), also released a report and a suggested game plan for ending the AIDS pandemic.
The UNAIDS report celebrated major gains in reducing new HIV infections in many countries, some of them in sub-Saharan Africa, and called for “Getting to Zero” in terms of new HIV infections worldwide. Most of these gains have been in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in newborns.
“It is becoming evident that achieving zero new HIV infections in children is possible,” said Sidibé. “I am excited that far fewer babies are being born with HIV. We are moving from despair to hope.”
Others celebrated some of the scientific gains such as more conclusive evidence that getting people on anti-HIV treatment also prevents the spread of disease by significantly reducing viral loads in HIV-infected persons.
And though a vaccine still seems a distant hope, researchers have made progress and are making headway on the basic immunology in ways that have recently also moved the vaccine community from despair to hope.
We can end AIDS. It’s true.
It is also true to say we can end hunger and extreme poverty, if only we put enough resources, talent and political will into those efforts. But we don’t.
And until we put in the effort needed to truly suppress HIV/AIDS, calling for an end to the global AIDS pandemic will be, despite some amazing progress made in the past decade, wishful thinking. Continue reading