News / Africa

After 30 Years, Fight Against HIV/AIDS Continues

Leading scientist remembers early 'dark' days of HIV

After 30 Years, Fight Against HIV/AIDS Continues
After 30 Years, Fight Against HIV/AIDS Continues

Multimedia

Audio

Health experts agree that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is still one of the most serious public health crises of our time. But unlike its early days, when there was little information and few resources to deal with it, recent discoveries have led to more effective and affordable prevention and treatment.

For many scientists who studied HIV in the early days, the virus was unlike anything they had ever seen before. Dr. Anthony Fauci was a young physician at the National Institutes of Health. He recalls first reading about HIV cases in a report provided by the Centers for Disease Control. “It was a curiosity; I had never seen anything like that.” The report described an illness of gay men from the Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City areas who had a strange pneumonia, Pneumocystis pneumonia, usually seen in cancer patients. “That was the beginning of the now 30 years of the AIDS era,” he said.

Many scientists like Fauci were worried about a developing medical problem that he called “mysterious and scary.” With little knowledge about how to respond, they began researching it.

Since then Fauci has devoted his career to the study of infectious diseases.  He is now one of the best-known scientists in the world. He has been head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health for almost three decades and continues to oversee research efforts in infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.

Early misconceptions

Since many of the first patients were from the gay community, scientists believed it was confined to the gay population. “But very quickly…it became clear that it was not restricted to gay men, that it was injection drug users and contaminated blood transfusions…and heterosexual partners of infected individuals.”

Because of the misconceptions in the early days of researching and treating HIV, government policy makers were not quick to respond. That was because of the stigma attached to gay people in United States at the time: “one of the problems is that it was in a population that is generally disenfranchised; there is a lot of stigma associated with the disease,” Fauci said. But as HIV/AIDS turned into a global pandemic and as it came to be better understood, the scientists and policy makers realized it was predominantly transmitted by heterosexuals, he said.

Also, he added, many governments were somewhat complacent about the disease because they didn’t realize the wider effects it would have on the community. “I don’t think early on…it got the attention that it should have.”

The pandemic would go on to have a greater effect on poorer parts of the world, like sub-Saharan Africa, where millions of people have died of AIDS and millions more live with the disease.

Fauci talked about the progress made by the world community in responding to HIV/AIDS. Scientists isolated the virus. They developed drugs to deal with it. And, he said, "We have had important breakthroughs in the arena of prevention. If you bring down the viral load in people who you are treating, you can decrease the likelihood that they will infect other people."

 

His own work continues, and he has been recognized for making important contributions to the scientific community’s understanding of how AIDS destroys the body’s defenses, making it susceptible to deadly infections, and for developing therapy for people living HIV/AIDS.


You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid