URL of this page: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/podcast/transcript092214.html

NLM Director’s Comments Transcript

Emphasizing Ending HIV/AIDS Epidemics: 09/22/2014

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Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff U.S. National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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A perspective recently published in Science finds global public health awareness, prevention, and fund raising campaigns should emphasize ending HIV/AIDS epidemics instead of focusing on patient screening, or touting the possibility of a preventive vaccine.

The editorial, written by three veteran, U.S.-based, public health experts, explains many scientists advocate the goal of an ‘end of AIDS’ via extensive screening patient treatment, or the development of a preventive vaccine.

The authors write they believe the reason for this position is (and we quote): ‘(scientists) are haunted by the fear of donor fatigue and a loss of momentum in the face of recognized challenges’ (end of quote). However, the authors explain there are significant barriers to effectively screen for AIDS in developing nations as well as to develop an effective AIDS vaccine.

The authors note the first announcement that a preventive AIDS vaccine was forthcoming occurred three decades ago — in 1984. They write (and we quote): ‘Disappointingly, progress towards an efficacious vaccine – a critically needed intervention – has faltered, and although there is intense interest in finding a cure, scalable interventions are far from reality’ (end of quote).

Moreover, the authors find there are significant barriers to screen and treat persons for HIV and AIDS in most nations. They write (and we quote): ‘Only 33.6 percent of women and 17.2 percent of men in low-and mid-income countries and 34 percent of those eligible for treatment, have access to it…’ (end of quote). 

Given current barriers, the authors emphasize scientists (as well as AIDS and public health activists) may be making a mistake by suggesting vaccines and more screening will control HIV/AIDS around the world. The authors write (and we quote): ‘implying imminent success may be perceived as minimizing the challenges that remain, resulting in the withdrawal of resources and a consequent resurgence of the presumed ‘controlled’ disease’ (end of quote).

Indeed, the authors note reduced resources are now a reality as current, global HIV prevention and treatment expenditures are significantly below a global target of $22 to $24 billion annually.

Conversely, the authors suggest AIDS awareness, prevention, and fund raising campaigns could emphasize a more practical goal — envisioning a world without epidemic HIV/AIDS.

The authors note current efforts (such as new, successful  programs that prevent mother-to-child transmission, earlier initiation of antiretroviral therapy, and treatment of pregnant HIV-infected women) enhance individual care as well as prevent further HIV transmission. The authors suggest the aggregate impact of most recently successful HIV and AIDS initiatives around the world acknowledges HIV and AIDS may persist, but minimize the public health treat posed by persons under treatment.

The authors conclude (and we quote): ‘a world without epidemic AIDS… Let this be the rallying call’ (end of quote).

Meanwhile, an excellent interactive tutorial about the multidimensional aspects of HIV/AIDs diagnosis, treatment, and prevention is provided by the Patient Education Association within the ‘start here’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s HIV/AIDS health topic page. The New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center provides an insightful website on AIDS myths and misconceptions in the ‘related issues’ section of MedlinePlus.gov’s HIV/AIDS health topic page.

MedlinePlus.gov’s HIV/AIDS health topic page additionally provides links to the latest pertinent journal research articles, which are available in the ‘journal articles’ section. Links to clinical trials that may be occurring in your area are available in the ‘clinical trials’ section. You can sign up to receive updates about HIV/AIDS as they become available on MedlinePlus.gov.

To find MedlinePlus.gov’s HIV/AIDS health topic page type ‘HIV’ in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov’s home page, then, click on ‘HIV/AIDS (National Library of Medicine).’ MedlinePlus.gov also has comprehensive health topic pages on living with HIV/AIDS, and HIV/AIDS medicines.

Incidentally, the first reported case of AIDS occurred 33 years ago — on June 5, 1981. It is important to note the authors’ arguments about the best strategies to communicate HIV/AIDS control would have been seen as science fiction only a generation ago. 

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