News / Africa

    Scientists Unveil Strategy to End HIV/AIDS within 40 Years

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Joe DeCapua

    Health officials are considering a new strategy that they say could effectively kill off HIV/AIDS within 40 years.
        
    The proposal is spearheaded by Professor Brian Williams of the South African Center for Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis (SACEMA).  It calls for blanket HIV testing for most of the world’s population, and those found HIV positive would be put immediately on a lifetime course of anti-retroviral drugs.
        
    Past and Future
        
    Professor John Hargrove, director of SECEMA in Stellenbosch, says, “What we’ve done in the past with HIV is try every manner of means that we can to stop people infecting each other.  But generally that’s been by way of trying to change the way they behave, to convince them that they should use condoms, that they should only have one partner and so on and so forth,” he says.
        
    However, that approach has not always been successful.
        
    “In particular, we are seeing very little sign in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana of any great change in behavior and certainly no great decline in the HIV prevalence.”
        
    Hargrove says Williams bases the strategy on mathematical models.
        
    “If you were in a place where you’ve got very high HIV prevalence, if you were to test the whole population, on average once a year and start people immediately on anti-retrovirals as soon as they were HIV positive, then you could actually reduce the incidence sufficiently that you would drive the epidemic to extinction within the foreseeable future.  That is of the order of 30 years.  I think that’s what’s radical about it.”
        
    The logic behind it
        
    “If you reduce the viral load, the amount of virus in the blood, then you radically reduce the infectiousness.  So, if in fact you get people very soon after they are HIV positive and put them on anti-retrovirals, you reduce the aggregate viral load in the entire population.  And therefore you will reduce the rate at which new infections occur,” he says.
        
    By putting people on treatment sooner rather than later and by continuing current treatment programs, overall new infections might be held in check.
        
    “Of course you will still have a lot of HIV-positive people in the population, but slowly as people just die out….  The mathematics of it simply indicate that if we manage to do this…this will be the logical outcome,” he says.
        
    Targeting the most sexually active
        
    The head of the South African Center for Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis says, for example, in Botswana the highest proportion of people on anti-retrovirals are those over 40 years old.
        
    “But those people who are much more sexually active,” he says, “the people in their late teens and early 20s, who are HIV positive, they are very, very seldom on anti-retrovirals.  So those people who are most likely to spread the infection are the least likely to be on anti-retrovirals.  That’s the essential point.”
        
    Strictly voluntary
        
    Such a testing program could raise privacy issues in many countries.  Hargrove says the strategy does not call for mandatory HIV testing.
        
    “We are not suggesting at all that there will be any form of coercion.  It would just be suggested to people very strongly that they may want to consider having an HIV test,” he says, “And that if in fact they are HIV positive, and if they want to, they will get free anti-retrovirals and they will have it for the rest of their lives.”
        
    The idea of putting people on AIDS drugs long before their immune systems collapse has been circulating for a while.  Critics say one of the problems is that such a move could break the budgets of national AIDS programs in many countries.  Hargrove disagrees.
        
    “The cost actually will be approximately the same over the next 40 years whether we continue what we’re doing right now or if we put into place what Brian (Williams) suggested we do.  The big difference is that if we continue the way we’re going now and if we do not manage actually to drive down (HIV) incidence by other means, then in 40 years…we will still be faced with the same costs,” he says.
        
    The South African professor says, however, “If we put in this more radical approach and reduce incidence to very close to zero, (in) 40 years…we will not have a problem to face.”
        
    The plan was presented to the American Association for the Advancement of science meeting in San Diego, California.  

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora