The HIV epidemic can be stopped (Dr. Julio Montaner)
As scientists prepare to meet in Vancouver, Canada, for the annual meeting of the International AIDS Society (IAS) on 19–22 July, many argue that the end of the AIDS epidemic could be in sight. A mass of convincing data, they say, shows that the universal roll-out of antiretroviral treatment provides a means to stop HIV — but only if the world acts fast.
The optimism is due to the apparent success of the ‘treatment as prevention’ approach. Treating people with antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible after their diagnosis, it seems, not only prevents death and disability due to the disease but also prevents virus transmission. In 2014, the United Nations Joint Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) drew on this concept to set the ‘90-90-90’ goals, which envisage diagnosing and effectively treating 90% of people infected with HIV to eliminate the disease as a public-health threat by 2030.
Altogether, the evidence bolsters the case that the world now has the tools at hand to eliminate the HIV threat. As conference co-chair Julio Montaner of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, argues: “Treatment works for individual and public health, and for the public-health purse. As a policymaker, you have nowhere to hide.”