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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

Alaskans experiencing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more frequent and extensive wildfires, deteriorating glaciers, and swift shoreline erosion More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs