News / Health

Plan Would Eliminate AIDS/HIV Within 30 Years

Researchers suggest focusing on anti-retroviral drugs to render HIV-positive cases non-infectious

Researchers at this week's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science have suggested a way to virtually wipe out AIDs over the next several decades. They propose the aggressive use of blanket HIV testing and anti-AIDS drugs.

As scientists continue to turn up empty-handed in the search for a cure for HIV/AIDS, some researchers are focusing their attention on what some consider to be the only real success so far in the war against HIV - anti-retroviral drugs that suppress the viral load, or amount of virus in the blood, to such low levels that HIV-positive individuals are virtually non-infectious.

AIDS researchers with the South African Center for Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis (SACEMA) are proposing a strategy for blanket testing for the majority of the world's most at-risk populations and putting those who are found to be HIV-positive on a lifetime course of anti-AIDS drugs.

The center's director, John Hargrove, says educational programs aimed at getting people to avoid risky behavior have so far not worked very well.  

Increased use of anti-retroviral drugs hasn't helped much either, Hargrove says, because treatment generally comes too late in the course of the disease of many individuals.
But according to a mathematical model, Hargrove says a program of early testing and treatment could turn the epidemic around in three decades.

"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. Therefore you will reduce the rate at which new infections occur," he said.

Success will not come quickly. Hargrove says there will continue to be a lot of new HIV infections for a while.

"But slowly as people die out, as we all do die, and you are just preventing more new infections," he said.  "And the mathematics simply indicates if we manage to do this, if we manage to test people once a year and get them immediately on antiretroviral drugs, this will be the logical outcome," said Hargrove.

More than 30 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS, which claims two million lives each year.

Trials are under way or about to begin in the US, Canada and sub-Saharan Africa to see whether giving antiretroviral drugs to uninfected individuals in high risk populations lowers transmission rates.  In studies of mother-to-child transmission, anti-AIDS drugs reduce the risk of infection from HIV positive mothers to their uninfected newborns by more than ninety percent.

Hargrove acknowledges that some people might consider blanket testing an invasion of privacy, which is why it would be voluntary.

"It would just be suggested to people very strongly that they may want to consider having an HIV test and knowing the result.  And that if they are HIV-positive and if they want to, they will have free anti-retrovirals and they will have it for the rest of their lives," he said.

The program would be extremely expensive, costing up to $3 billion a year in South Africa alone.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs