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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs