Experts have laid out a road map to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Is it possible?
LIVE SCIENCE – An HIV diagnosis hasn’t been a death sentence for years, thanks to powerful medications.
Despite incredible progress, however, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) remains a global public health threat, with 1.3 million new infections and around half that many deaths in 2022 alone.
While new HIV infections have dropped steadily since their peak in 1995, as people live longer with the disease, the pool of people who are HIV-positive has only grown.
People with HIV must consistently take medications to prevent the virus from becoming transmissible again or progressing to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) … continued below
“In 1961 – when Illinois became the first state to repeal its sodomy law – every other state in America had a sodomy law. Now, 15 states still have such laws. In the 1970s and the early 1980s, 21 states got rid of their sodomy laws. But as the 1980s progressed, anti-gay groups mobilized against the repeal of sodomy laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick significantly hampered legal efforts to strike down sodomy laws.” – American Civil Liberties Union
[The first cases of what would later become known as AIDS were reported in the United States in June of 1981 … probably just a coincidence. – HEADLINE HEALTH]
As a result, new infections could actually rebound fast if the world doesn’t dramatically ramp up the number of people being regularly treated, tested and protected from new HIV infections.
But we could head off that rebound risk by the end of the decade, experts say.
Countries around the world have signed onto an ambitious United Nations program with a goal to “reduce the rate of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths to below the reproductive rate of 1,” country by country, Quarraisha Abdool Karim, associate scientific director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa and a joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) special ambassador, told Live Science.
That would mean each person living with HIV would infect fewer than one additional person in their lifetime.
If the program is successful, we’d see 200,000 new HIV infections and 130,000 AIDS-related deaths worldwide in 2030 — 90% fewer than in 2010. While eradicating the virus would require a vaccine and cure, we could eventually drive HIV infections and death rates to near zero without those tools, Abdool Karim said.
“We do have the tools to end AIDS as a public health threat. We do have the biomedical interventions,” she said. “The challenge is, how do we all get to that point?”