The 19th International AIDS conference came to a close this summer amid much talk of the beginning of the end of AIDS, turning the tide on HIV and even a potential cure. It is now more certain than ever that we have the tools, the medicine and experience to stop this epidemic.
While we make gains in certain areas of the globe, we remain mired in a global epidemic. For every person placed on HAART, two more people become infected. We now have 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS and are treating only 8 million of the 15 million eligible people in resource poor countries. At least 25% of HIV infected individuals do not know they are infected and, as a result cannot protect themselves or their sexual partners. These statistics are sobering to an organization like ours—since we treat pregnant women who may or may not know they are infected while a new life steadily grows inside them.
While it is really encouraging to read reports from the conference that the technology and science exists to keep infected individuals healthier and the secondary benefits of healthier communities, it is frustrating that more countries aren’t falling all over each other to fund the global roll out of HAART. Fortunately President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton reinforced their support of creating an AIDS free generation—and added another $150million to get more medicine to the patients we treat in resource poor countries. Change is incremental but the vision of an AIDS free generation is one that I hope to witness and certainly one I hope the women and infants who face so many other obstacles to keeping healthy can witness as well.
See an overview of the conference program here.[image position=”left”/]photo © Tori Stuart Photography 2011