The end of AIDS? (Dr. Julio Montaner)

It sounds like very good news. The United Nations announced triumphantly this summer, in the run up to yet another global conference on the disease, that it will be possible to see “the end of AIDS” by 2030.

The UN report claims that ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 is possible and would mean the spread of HIV was being controlled or contained. The impact of the virus in societies and in people's lives will have been reduced by significant declines in ill health, stigma, deaths and the number of AIDS orphans.

According to a July article in the medical journal The Lancet, “in 2013 there were 1.8 million new HIV infections, 29.2 million HIV cases and 1.3 million HIV deaths as opposed to the epidemic's peak in 2005, when the disease took 1.7 million lives.”

But Stephen Lewis says it's premature to declare victory. And he should know.

To have any chance of actually “ending AIDS,” Lewis said, developed nations would need to increase funding for research and, very importantly, to expand the application globally of the “treatment as prevention” (also known as “test and treat”) approach pioneered here in BC by Julio Montaner and his colleagues at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. The impact of widespread testing and prompt treatment with anti-retroviral drugs is to reduce patients' viral load to nearly zero and to prevent person to person transmission, even in the event of unprotected sexual contact.

Tom Sandborn reports

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