News / Health

Struggle Against AIDS Makes Progress But More Gains Needed

Romanian volunteers hold their hands forming a red ribbon, the anti-AIDS symbol, during an awareness rally two days before World AIDS day, in central Bucharest, Romania, November 29, 2011.
Romanian volunteers hold their hands forming a red ribbon, the anti-AIDS symbol, during an awareness rally two days before World AIDS day, in central Bucharest, Romania, November 29, 2011.
Vidushi Sinha

As communities around the globe mark World AIDS Day December 1, HIV infection rates in some parts of the world are surging, and remaining "stubbornly steady" in many other regions. At the same time, more effective prevention strategies and progress toward an HIV vaccine are generating new hope for what U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called "an AIDS-free generation."

“The goal of an AIDS-free generation may be ambitious, but it is possible,” said Clinton.

Speaking at a Washington forum, she called on global health experts, scientists, and advocates to redouble their efforts.

The stakes are high. AIDS - a disease associated with the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus - HIV - has killed 30 million people over the past three decades. Another 34 million people around the world are currently living with HIV infections.

Scientists working to control the epidemic say the fight against AIDS is difficult because the virus that causes it is complex - and tenacious.

“The fact is that once you are infected with HIV, it incorporates into your genetic material. The virus has a trick that it kind of permanently attaches itself to our genetic material. And that means that it’s very difficult to get rid of," said Rick King, vice-president of vaccine design at the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a public-private partnership.

King said an effective vaccine against HIV could be ready within five years, though hurdles remain.

“Millions of viruses are circulating at one time and they are different enough that a vaccine needs to take those differences into account. We need to find vaccines that will block all those thousands of circulating strains,” said King.

A recent UN report says better prevention and drug treatment programs are reducing AIDS-related deaths and global HIV infection rates.  But in some regions, said UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe, the data show the epidemic is surging.

"I think the most serious areas remain Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where the report is showing that in 10 years, we have an increase by 250 percent in the number of new infections," said Sidibe.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there's a simple explanation for such disparities: high-risk human behavior.

"Injection-drug use, the use of selling sex for drugs - it's all a perfect incubation pot for the spread of HIV. So it isn’t an even, well-distributed incidence, prevalence, deaths, etcetera. Some countries are up and some countries are down,” said Fauci.

Sidibe said South Africa is a good example of a nation trying to get its AIDS epidemic under control:

"[They] tested more than 14 million people and reduced the price of a drug by 52 percent and increased the number of people on treatment," said Sidibe.

While public health experts applaud the progress made in controlling HIV/AIDS, they say more support from donor countries and better use of resources by host nations will be needed to end the epidemic and meet the goal of an AIDS-free generation.


You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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 Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs