Monday, July 11, 2011

It is time to work even harder to control the AIDS epidemic!

Sixty million people have been infected with HIV and about half of them have already died. Two and a half million new infections are occurring each year. The impact of the epidemic in Africa has been especially devastating.

An editorial by Anthony Fauci in Science offers promise for the future if and only if we use the tools already available to prevent new infections, while treating those already infected and while continuing to develop effective HIV vaccines and other pharmaceuticals to deal with the disease.
We finally have scientifically validated prevention modalities that clearly work, suggesting that ending the pandemic is feasible. Older, proven prevention tools include the proper use of condoms, needle exchange programs for injection drug users, and antiretroviral treatment of HIV-infected pregnant women to prevent transmission of the virus to their newborn infants. Building on this foundation, recent HIV prevention research also has provided strong scientific evidence that adult male circumcision is highly effective in preventing infection in heterosexual men, that an antiretroviral-based topical gel prevents infection in heterosexual women, and that pre-exposure prophylaxis with ART in men who have sex with men is effective at preventing infection. And in May 2011, a randomized controlled clinical trial demonstrated that early initiation of ART by the infected partner in heterosexual couples, where one partner is HIV-infected and the other not, is highly effective in decreasing transmission of HIV to the uninfected partner.

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