Washington Post Examines Topics Discussed at XVI International AIDS Conference
Although advocates, health care workers and scientists "long ago gave up the idea" that they could end the HIV/AIDS pandemic "with a single blow," participants at the XVI International AIDS Conference -- which ended on Friday in Toronto -- discussed the idea that it "might be possible to bleed it to death with a thousand cuts," the Washington Post reports. Various prevention strategies were discussed at the conference -- including microbicides, male circumcision, herpes treatment, single doses of antiretroviral drugs taken before sex and providing universal access to HIV tests. In addition, several studies presented at the conference "provided yet more evidence" that increased access to antiretroviral drugs is a "great strategy for prevention," the Post reports. In one of the "more provocative presentations," Julio Montaner, director of British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, presented a mathematical model that predicted the outcome of treating all reported HIV cases worldwide. According to the model, global HIV prevalence decreased to "basically" zero by 2050, and treatment costs "took a clear downward turn" beginning in 2015 as the number of new HIV cases decreased, the Post reports. Mark Wainberg, co-chair of the conference and head of the McGill University AIDS Centre, said, "Treated people just simply become less infectious. This is win-win. This is not a subject that requires debate." According to the Post, the "real power of treatment's preventive effect is that it would synergize" with other prevention methods that might be made widely available over the next five to eight years. Although researchers and advocates are "hesitant to announce the dawning of an era of [HIV] prevention that could eventually lead to the epidemic's end," there was "little doubt the meeting ended on a note of optimism and anticipation," the Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 8/19).
Kaisernetwork.org served as the official webcaster of the conference. View the guide to coverage and all webcasts, interviews and a daily video round up of conference highlights at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/aids2006.