• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Scientists: AIDS Could Be Brought Under Control By 2030

hiv-aids-logo

Scientists believe that it could be possible to bring about an end to AIDS within fifteen years:

There is a chance the Aids epidemic can be brought under control by 2030, according to a report by the United Nations Aids agency.

It said the number of new HIV infections and deaths from Aids were both falling.

However, it called for far more international effort as the “current pace cannot end the epidemic”.

And charity Medecins Sans Frontieres warned most of those in need of HIV drugs still had no access to them.

The report showed that 35 million people around the world were living with HIV.

There were 2.1 million new cases in 2013 – 38% less than the 3.4 million figure in 2001.

Aids-related deaths have fallen by a fifth in the past three years, standing at 1.5 million a year. South Africa and Ethiopia have particularly improved.

Many factors contribute to the improving picture, including increased access to drugs. There has even been a doubling in the number of men opting for circumcision to reduce the risk of spreading or contracting HIV.

As someone who grew up in the era when contracting AIDS was once seen as a certain death sentence, this is certainly remarkable news. When the disease first became widely known, albeit not very well understood, the widespread fear was that it would quickly become a public health problem that would be difficult to manage notwithstanding the fact that it was relatively difficult to transmit the HIV virus from one person to another. The evidence from Africa certainly seemed to show what could go wrong if HIV/AIDS was allowed to spread unchecked among a wide population, and the taboos that were involved with the manner in which the disease was primarily transmitted in the west were, at least initially, hard to overcome. At some point, though, the development of new anti-viral drugs made its seem possible that, if AIDS could not be completely cured, then it could at least be turned into something resembling a chronic, but survivable, condition. The only caveat being that one most have access to drugs that often very expensive and which must be taken on a regular schedule. That’s not an easy thing to ask in the third world nations of Africa where the disease ended up becoming a much bigger threat to public health than it ever has been in the west.

That is going to make reaching the 2030 goal difficult:

Patients taking antiretroviral drugs can keep their HIV infection under control and have a near-normal life expectancy.

The tools are there, but too often they are beyond the reach of people who need them.

54% of people living with HIV do not know they are infected and 63% are not getting antiretroviral therapy.

Diagnosing and treating the missing millions – often in sub-Saharan Africa – would significantly reduce the 1.5 million Aids-related deaths each year.

Dr Jennifer Cohn, the medical director for Medecins Sans Frontieres’ access campaign, said: “Providing life-saving HIV treatment to nearly 12 million people in the developing world is a significant achievement, but more than half of people in need still do not have access.”

In Nigeria, 80% of people do not have access to treatment.

Dr Cohn added: “We need to make sure no-one is left behind – and yet, in many of the countries where MSF works we’re seeing low rates of treatment coverage, especially in areas of low HIV prevalence and areas of conflict.

“In some countries, people are being started on treatment too late to save their lives, and pregnant women aren’t getting the early support they need.”

Marcus Low from South African campaign group Treatment Action Campaign told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme:

“It is still a crisis in South Africa – we still have about 1,000 new infections every day.

“On the treatment side, we have done well and people are living longer.

“But we must do more to prevent new infections.”

Regarding the problem of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, one person that deserves much credit is George W. Bush, as The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson noted in a June 2012 column. Through a program that involved, in perspective, a fairly small amount of money, Bush helped to fund programs that both increased the availability of antiviral drugs to people infected with HIV and the availability of education and condoms for preventing the spread of the disease. With the disease more or less under control in the west, this is the type of program that will have to be pursued more aggressively in the future if we’re to reach the goal of essentially eliminating AIDS by 2030.

Ideally, of course, we would find a cure for the AIDS or a way to eradicate the virus completely, and research on that front obviously continues. However, considering where we were when this all started out when I was still in High School, it’s pretty remarkable that we’ve come this far this quickly against a disease that scientists knew next to nothing about when it first started to appear some thirty years ago. That’s pretty remarkable in and of itself.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    I seem to recall that the war on cancer was declared 40 years ago and quite a few well-informed people thought cancer would be conquered within a few years.

    1, 2, 3, many

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. @Dave Schuler:

    Not an unfair point, but there has been tremendous progress made in reference to HIV/AIDS to the point where it isn’t unfair to say that we may be close to the point where, if not being cured it becomes more of a chronic and treatable illness than a fatal diagnosis. That is tremendous progress, and now the question is how well we can replicate that in Africa where the disease is far more prevalent and the medical infrastructure not nearly as strong.

    On a side note, I’d also say that we have made tremendous progress regarding cancer as well in the past 40-50 years. Thanks to early detection and treatment, there are a lot more people surviving what would have otherwise been something that would have killed them. We haven’t eradicated cancer, but we’ve made it more survivable

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    @Dave Schuler: Dave, cancer it’s different and much more complex. In addition our modern society lives in a sea of carcinogens – we breath them, we drink them and eat them. In addition there are genetic factors.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Lounsbury says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    Cancer is not a single disease, it is rather a description of a set of not particularly operationally related as such cellular malfunctions.

    Some specific cancer types are effectively cured (I had one in fact), others are not at all.

    AIDs is caused by a single virus (with flavours to be sure, but a single virus in the end).

    Not in any way genuinely comparable.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    You’re all missing the point. 15 years is the unimaginable future. When somebody tells you they’ll do something tomorrow, you can have pretty fair confidence they might. When they tell you next year, a bit less confidence.

    Fifteen years?

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. grumpy realist says:

    @Dave Schuler: Actually, there are some new cancer treatments that are getting surprisingly close to total clean-up.

    Why it’s taken so long is that cancer isn’t really just one thing. Also it looks like what happens in cancer is not that the cells are getting produced, but that the human immune system gets worse and worse as you get older at targeting and getting rid of cancer cells. We’re always producing cancer cells–it’s just that normally the body can handle them.

    Hence the immense interest in the nano tech-based stuff.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    @Dave Schuler: I think when they made those predictions we still didn’t really thoroughly understand what cancer was.@Lounsbury: Lounsbury nails it.. Even when it comes to lung cancer there is more than one variety, the same applies to pancreatic cancer. Some are curable but some are so aggressive they are not.
    It’s not always easy. My uncle had lung cancer but that was not what killed him – many of his other organs failed because of aggressive chemo therapy.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. Doughe says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    It is consistent for many “well-informed people” to think that “cancer would be conquered within a few years” when the public has been inundated over the last century by the medical industry and its allied mass media with promise after promise of a breakthrough in the fight against cancer is just around the corner. But many “well-informed people” are really well-disinformed people.

    On the other side of the dissemination of empty promises are the critical cancer information that’s not been disseminated which makes the entire war on cancer a disinformation campaign (read the afterword of this: A Mammogram Letter The British Medical Journal Censored ). The real war is on the unwitting public.

    The actual data on the war on cancer shows it has been a great general failure, with a few exceptions.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Doughe says:

    It is consistent for many “well-informed people” to think that “cancer would be conquered within a few years” when the public has been inundated over the last century by the medical industry and its allied mass media with promise after promise of a breakthrough in the fight against cancer is just around the corner. But many “well-informed people” are really well-disinformed people.

    On the other side of the dissemination of empty promises are the critical cancer information that’s not been disseminated which makes the entire war on cancer a disinformation campaign (read the afterword of this: google/bing “A Mammogram Letter The British Medical Journal Censored”). The real war is on the unwitting public.

    The actual data on the war on cancer shows it has been a great general failure, with a few exceptions.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  10. Lounsbury says:

    @Doughe:

    This entire post is utter bollocks and reflects a complete lack of understanding of what cancer is.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Lounsbury says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Right the early understanding of cancer was that it was one thing (rather like the incoherent post by Doughe), rather than a whole passel of different – utterly different in many ways – diseases. the only real commonality is that something goes wrong in the variety of cell level controls on division. It’s rather like as if everyone understood all disease via the catch-all “Runny Nose.”

    Unfortunatley too many people still think there is this one thing called cancer, rather than cancer being a catch-all for many different diseases with similar end effects.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Slugger says:

    Back to the topic: I think that it is wonderful that we are thinking about eradicating AIDS as a goal. In 1991 when Magic Johnson announced that he was HIV positive, I thought that he would probably only live a year or so. The progress that has been made is a step in the right direction. These steps came as a result of the courage, patience, and shining humanity of those afflicted with this disease and the dedication and hard work of the doctors and scientists who put in the time to study the virus. All of humanity owes a debt of gratitude to you!
    BTW, that movie, Dallas Buyers’ Club, got the story all wrong. We are here talking about the possibility of eradicating this disease because of the scientists and scientific methods that the movie scorns.
    The article represents good news. It is o.k. to be happy about the good news. It need not be tempered with ” they aint cured cancer yet.”

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Rob in CT says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Ok, that narrow point is fine.

    I think the others make good points about what cancer is, fundamentally (not one thing, but many) vs. what HIV is, and that the difference matters.

    Our relationship to curing cancer will probably be a lot like fusion power: always ~50 years away. Whereas I think we will, at some point, nail HIV.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Grewgills says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    Even when it comes to lung cancer there is more than one variety, the same applies to pancreatic cancer…

    and two cancers in different organs can be more similar in their mechanism of action than two different forms of lung cancer or pancreatic cancer.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Mikey says:

    This is, sadly and unfortunately, related:

    Prominent HIV researcher Joep Lange was among the victims of flight MH17

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

Speak Your Mind

*