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Far from Over: AIDS Still Rampant in Sub-Saharan Africa
By admin August 1, 2016

HIV

When international attention first came to the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, it was at the Durban conference of 2000. Leading up to that day, celebrities, politicians, and humanitarians were pushing for more resources to fight a disease that was killing as many as 1 in 5 in some villages. AIDS had left thousands orphaned, an entire generation of children whose parents were taken away by this relentless disease. Fortunately, for the past 16-years, the world has made strides in this field, primarily due to the influx in funding and global pressure. A “cure” was found, millions were helped, and more people are now educated about the disease than ever. Finally, there was a collective sigh of relief as we thought we had finally tamed the monster that had taken more than 25 million lives since the year 2000. There are still close to 2 million new infections daily.

Sadly, at the most recent conference at Durban, experts are saying the goal of ending AIDS by the year 2030 is far from being reached. The main cause:  inequality. Poverty, gender inequality, and the socio-political barriers are preventing many from getting access to drugs and testing. At the recent International Aids Conference in Durban, South Africa, Bill Gates, who has invested 1.6 billion dollars into AIDS research to date, said the following:

“If we only do as well as we have been doing, the number of people with HIV will go up even beyond its previous peak,” Gates said. “We have to do an incredible amount to reduce the incidence of the number of people getting the infection. To start writing the story of the end of Aids, new ways of thinking about treatment and prevention are essential.”

The issue at hand is so multi-faceted that experts themselves are struggling to find the next best steps. The previous strategy of test and treat has run up against the barrier of antibody resistance, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This is because these individuals are being treated for other infectious diseases rampant in the region such as tuberculosis. In addition, poverty and gender-based barriers to getting tested and demanding protected sex presents key hurdles to those getting care who need it the most. To make matters worse, the largest generation to date is currently entering an age where they are most at risk, with today’s African youth being the largest on record. Finally, due to global economic slowdowns, and austerity measures in most of Europe, funding is running scarce – and the money crucially needed for the massive scale of HIV awareness, prevention, and control is dwindling.

How do we then, in these grim prospects, continue to work towards eradicating one of the deadliest diseases of our generation? Experts and activists say just keep pushing. The work is far from over, and many key players will once again work to raise awareness about how sustained funding for this disease is crucial.  In addition, innovation such as cheaper drugs and cheaper testing kits continue to make the work slightly more feasible. Someday, they hope, we will see an HIV-free world.

 

For more information:

 HIV/Aids resurgence in Africa feared as Durban hosts conference

Hope for ‘end of Aids’ is disappearing, experts warn

Avert: Global HIV/AIDS Statistics

Four Lessons Learned at AIDS 2016


Thanks for sharing !


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