News / Africa

Scientists Aim to End HIV Epidemic

Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks at the XIX International AIDS Conference, July 23, 2012, in Washington.
Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks at the XIX International AIDS Conference, July 23, 2012, in Washington.
Joe DeCapua
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is more than 30 years old. However, at the 19th International AIDS Conference Tuesday there was talk of ending the epidemic through scientific advances and public health policy.



Dr. Anthony Fauci said it was many “incremental steps” over more than 30 years that led to today’s major advances against HIV/AIDS.

“We want to get to the end of AIDS. That will only occur with some fundamental foundations. And these foundations are basic and clinical research, which will give us the tools, which will ultimately lead to interventions and then ultimately these will need to be implemented together with studies about how best to implement them,” he said.


The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said the “scientific basis” exists to “consider the feasibility and the reality of an HIV/AIDS-free generation.”

Fauci said the understanding of the HIV replication cycle is “probably the most important of the accumulation of scientific advances.” It revealed some of the virus’ vulnerabilities.

“It’s that kind of basic science which brings us to the next step. And that is the step of interventions predominantly in the arena of treatment and prevention.”

Fauci said the first antiretroviral drug, AZT, offered a “glimmer of hope.” But its effects were small and didn’t last long. Years later, two drugs were used. Better results, but still not good enough.

“Then the transforming meeting in Vancouver in 1996 with a three drug therapy. [It] brings down the virus to below detectable levels, stays there potentially indefinitely and we have a new dawn of therapeutics with HIV/AIDS that have transformed the lives of individuals,” he said.

There are now 30 drugs approved to treat HIV.

“We can’t stop there,” said Fauci, “because there are still those who are not responding to these drugs and we still need long acting drugs, particularly with regard to adherence.”

In the early days of the epidemic, half of his patients died within six to eight months of their initial visit.

“Now, if a person walks into our clinic at the NIH or any other place that has a availability of treatment – is young, 25, been recently infected – you put them on combination therapy. And you can look them in the eye and tell them it is likely, if they adhere to that regimen, that they will live an additional 50 years,” he said.

However, Fauci warned that antiretrovirals won’t do any good if people don’t know they’re infected. He said 20 percent of the more than one million people believed infected in the U.S. have never been tested. Only 30 percent are on treatment. He says what’s needed is a “care continuum.

“That is, seeking out, testing, linking to care, treating when eligible and making sure they adhere,” he said.

Recent studies have proven that antiretroviral drugs can greatly reduce transmission risk from an infected partner to an uninfected partner. And the drugs have been shown that when taken by uninfected people they can act as a prophylaxis. It’s known as Treatment as Prevention.

There have also been advances in vaccine research. The results are not good enough to produce an effective vaccine, but they’re encouraging.

Fauci said, IF we were able to plug in a vaccine block, we would surely have a very robust combination prevention package even if it wasn’t a perfect vaccine - even if it was a 90 percent or 80 percent – we could do it.”

And a cure? Scientists are working on a few possibilities, such as finding a way to eradicate the virus from the body or what Fauci calls a “functional cure.” That is, enhancing the body’s immune system to specifically deal with HIV or somehow modify cells to resist the virus. Fauci called it a “scientific challenge.” Nevertheless, he said it can be done.

“Today, in July, of 2012, the statement that we don’t have the scientific basis to implement is no longer valid. We do. That’s the point,” he said.

Fauci added it will not happen spontaneously. He says, “A lot of people, a lot of countries, a lot of regions have a lot to do."

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More