Is the end of AIDS in sight?
Mankind has the tools to end AIDS once and for all — that’s what one expert is claiming.
The problem is not a lack of tools, but rather a number of obstacles that prevent us from taking care of the HIV epidemic once and for all — however, there is a path to victory, according to a Medpage Today report.
Carlos del Rio, a professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, said that since the first case of AIDS was identified in 1983, we’ve never been closer to eradicating HIV.
Today, we are able to identify those who get infected and then get them into therapy, where they are given medications to stop the virus. The medical community is also capable of identifying individuals who have the highest risk of developing HIV, who can be given preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent them from getting them in the first place.
But what is it going to take to stop the HIV epidemic once and for all? Del Rio said it comes down to getting additional resources to get people into therapy and implement PrEP in more at-risk people — a seemingly simple solution that is difficult in reality because global economies are struggling, leading to cutbacks in public health funding.
Then there is the issue with public stigma and discrimination, the second challenge when it comes to HIV. This is not only harmful to an individual psychologically, but it makes it more difficult to snuff out the disease because people are afraid to get tested.
Another issue that needs to be addressed in order to send HIV out the door once and for all is to retool healthcare systems. In our current system, if someone gets an HIV infection, they need to get health care and remain in care for the rest of their lives. However, more than 50 percent of those diagnosed don’t stay permanently in care.
The last piece of the puzzle is continuing research to find a cure. About 2 million people each year get infected with HIV, so a vaccine is necessary to truly stamp out the HIV epidemic.