Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Los Angeles Times
The United States hosted an international AIDS conference last month for the first time in 22 years. Much work remains to be done in the battle against the disease, but what a difference two decades can make.
HIV/AIDs are by no means eradicated in the United States. For instance, in Dallas, health officials worry about an uptick among teens and those in their early 20s. But thanks to numerous partners, the fight to control the killer virus' spread has been more victorious than anyone could have imagined in 1990.
The challenge in controlling infections is now more of a sub-Saharan Africa problem. Even there, the expansion of treatment programs has helped several nations curb the spread of the sexually transmitted disease. In South Africa, for example, about 1.4 million people receive anti-retroviral drugs to treat the virus. The effort in Africa is a successful model that might well be emulated for other international challenges.
The campaign started with $15 billion from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which began in 2003 under George W. Bush's administration. Partners from other nations have supplemented the work. So have numerous philanthropies and nongovernmental organizations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Clinton Foundation and the George W. Bush Institute. They and others continue to collaborate on curbing the spread of AIDS.
What's also remarkable is that the conversation has turned toward finding a cure. Researchers such as Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health are pursuing strategies that could lead to this goal, and the international conference included this discussion in its agenda.
The fight is not over. Far from it. But in a world where progress sometimes seems elusive, let's celebrate the advancements. May the next chapter finally lead to a cure.