“A quarter century into the HIV/AIDS pandemic, researchers fear that a lack of preparedness for large-scale social changes, driven by factors like armed conflict and climate change, could lead to explosive new outbreaks affecting millions of people. Since cases of a severe pneumonia affecting gay men were described for the first time in a U.S. public health report in June 1981, more than 65 million people have become infected with HIV and 25 million have died, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), which estimates the current number of people living with HIV at 37 to 45 million.

“We should not accept living with this epidemic at the level it has reached,” Paul DeLay, director of monitoring and evaluation at UNAIDS, told IPS. “Today, we have a much clearer understanding of the epidemic itself and what we need to do.”

Pointing to the most important advances of the last 25 years, DeLay said the real breakthrough from the standpoint of science has been cheaper, simpler treatment and diagnosis, and drugs that prevent mother-to-child transmission.

While he believes that it is unrealistic to think in terms of eradicating the epidemic right now, “What we instead have to do is use all of the tools we have to get it under control and reduce it as much as possible,” he said. “We have to fight the fight.”

But according to researcher Samuel R. Friedman, “We are not really looking ahead to what may be coming down the road at us.” [Link]

Get occasional updates from UN Dispatch

* indicates required

Want Our Social Media List?