Eliminating HIV: Progress, Possibilities, and Roadblocks
Can we end the HIV epidemic in the next five years? President Trump pledged in February to do just that, but it will take vigorous research, aggressive outreach, new global commitments, better access to evidence-based treatment, attitude changes — and resources. Although the viral infection has drawn less attention in recent years, some 37 million people still live with HIV/AIDS, including one million in the United States; 5,000 new infections occur every day; and AIDS killed 940,000 people in 2017. Hear from powerhouse scientists and preeminent thought leaders, including some who have been fighting AIDS before it even had a name, about how we reach our ambitious goals.
Anthony FauciDirector of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Olga KhazanStaff writer at The Atlantic
Mark DybulFaculty Co-Director, Center for Global Health and Quality and Professo...
Claire SterkPresident and Charles Howard Candler Professor of Public Health, Emory...
James CurranJames W. Curran Dean of Public Health, Rollins School of Public Health...
- 2019 Health
While James Curran, dean at the Rollins School of Public Health, raves about the incredible breakthroughs that have changed HIV prevention and treatment, he cautions that these tools simply aren’t sufficient. Antiretroviral drugs can control existing infections and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) can drastically reduce cases of HIV, but the scale of the current epidemic requires something bigger.
Big IdeaWe’re not talking about something that’s going to be over with. If we’re successful, we’ll still have 30 or 40 million people in therapy for 30 or 40 years.James Curran
With 10s of millions of HIV-positive individuals around the world living with the disease, Curran thinks a vaccine that completely stops the spread of the disease should be the ultimate goal.
Claire Sterk, president of Emory University, says HIV researchers should put individuals and communities first when working to fight HIV. (This quote has been edited and condensed for clarity)
Claire Sterk: We have a lot of people who fall through the cracks. We talk about discrimination, racism, classism, and lack of access, and all of that’s the case. But when you really go into communities and talk to people who are at risk or are infected, it means nothing. It’s about the whole person, the whole community...We need to get smarter about the science of understanding people and meeting people where they are, otherwise we will continue to have a gap between what we could do and what we’re doing.”
Advances in treatment are only as effective as their implementation strategies, and when researchers don’t take the extra step of building community trust and understanding, they won’t see the results the treatments promise.
The HIV epidemic globally is mostly impacting young people. Figuring out how to get young people tested and treated for HIV is a problem many communities can’t solve. But Mark Dybul, co-director of the Center for Global Health and Quality, sees opportunities to couple HIV intervention with other health prevention measures for young people.
Why it Matters
Dybul stresses that young people don’t seek out health care overall, not just for HIV. But if care providers can combine health care for mental health with HIV care, for example, not only will it be easier to deal with complications in treating HIV, but the general health of youth communities would drastically improve.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP)
PreP is a pill used as a preventative measure for those with a high risk of contracting HIV, which, when used properly, can substantially reduce HIV infection rates.
2019 HIV Prevention Progress Report — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
HIV Treatment: The Basics — National Institutes of Health