Victories against AIDS have lessons for COVID-19 -
Nov 29, 2021 1 min, 47 secs
It has been 40 years since the earliest reports of what ultimately became known as AIDS, in 1981.

This year’s World AIDS Day, on 1 December, marks both incredible progress and the need for more.

These revealed the enormous scope of the pandemic: between 1984 and 1985, new cases of AIDS in the United States almost doubled.

In 1985, a 25-year-old in the United States diagnosed with AIDS had a life expectancy of less than two years.

The fight against HIV reveals how important it is to make use of existing treatments and strategies for prevention, to strive for better ones, to reach vulnerable communities and to consider equity, education and outreach.

The 40 years of AIDS have been punctuated by periods of both darkness and hope.

Glimmers of hope came with treatments for opportunistic infections and the first partially effective antiretroviral drugs.

A crucial lesson was that antiretroviral therapy both helps the person living with HIV and reduces their risk of transmitting it: treatment cuts the level of the virus in their blood until it can neither be detected nor passed on.

Medical advances mean that HIV/AIDS could, theoretically, now be taken off the table as a major health threat (in the United States and globally), particularly if programmes such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria continue to get robust support.

And so, a top priority is to ensure that everyone has access to existing treatment and prevention options, while we develop better ones.

Earlier this year the first long-acting injectable antiretroviral treatment regimen, cabotegravir + rilpivirine, delivered once a month, was approved by regulatory authorities.

Exciting work is under way for further HIV treatment and prevention.

A safe and effective HIV vaccine has been elusive so far, but even a moderately effective vaccine could, together with the rest of the toolkit, bring an end to AIDS as a major health concern

Entering the fifth decade of AIDS, the challenge to researchers is to work with at-risk communities to deliver treatment and prevention to everyone in the world who needs them

Ann Arbor, MI, United States

Research Triangle Park, NC, United States

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