Fight Against HIV/AIDS Pandemic at ‘Frustrating Yet Tantalizing Turning Point,’ Editorial Says
The fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic is at a "frustrating yet tantalizing turning point," as was "evidenced" at the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City earlier this month, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says. HIV/AIDS first "was a mystery, then a peril and a political football, and now it's a research marathon," the editorial says, adding, "Nearly three decades on, AIDS has collected all these labels" and it "may be a long wait for the next name change."
The lack of medical breakthroughs, protests and prominent world leaders -- besides former U.S. President Clinton -- at the AIDS Conference shows that "public attention surrounding AIDS has faded," the editorial says. Although newly recorded cases of the disease are decreasing globally and three million people now have access to antiretroviral drugs, this "slow and steady" progress is not "good enough," the editorial says, adding that as "infection rates drop, so has the sense of urgency."
According to the editorial, there are "doubts along the frontlines in the battle" against HIV/AIDS, including over issues such as the cost of medical care and sustaining drug access in developing countries. The editorial also asks if it will "ever be possible for national leaders to focus on a topic that touches so many hot-button topics," such as commercial sex work, drug use, women's rights and civil liberties for people living with HIV.
According to the editorial, a preventive HIV/AIDS vaccine "remains a distant hope, given the lengthy list of failed attempts." It adds that instead, "small-scale innovations" -- such as male circumcision, microbicides and the promotion of prevention plans that include condoms, counseling and abstinence -- "need tryouts in a landscape with no solid answers." HIV/AIDS "remains lethal and unsolved," the editorial says, concluding, "That should be reason enough to fight it. But the world should be encouraged by small steps that are paying off -- and take even more of them" (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/20).
Kaisernetwork.org was the official webcaster of the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.