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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More