A World Without AIDS: How Far Off?

If you are middle-aged or older, you may remember a world without AIDS. After all, it didn’t become a commonly known or understood disease until it started taking the lives of some famous individuals in the 1980s. Today, it is a worldwide epidemic with more than 35 million HIV-positive individuals across the globe. With we ever see a world without AIDS again? That was the question posed at a convention held this past year.

Researchers and top physicians gathered from around the world to discuss the steps involved in getting rid of HIV and AIDS for good. Hopes are high because of the emergence of a few cases of cured individuals. In fact, the first man ever cured from the disease addressed the audience of doctors and researchers, inspiring them to reach their ultimate goal. However, while we wait for the dream of an HIV free world to come about, what else is being done for those who have the disease and what is being done to reduce transmission?

Antiretroviral treatments exist today that allow people with HIV to live a normal lifespan. Of course, this has led to other previously unknown complications of the disease. Now that HIV no longer quickly advances to AIDS, cutting a person’s life short, doctors are discovering that HIV can cause many secondary problems. One of these complications is a series of neurological problems.

Other issues involve the fact that many HIV-positive people around the world live in poor countries. Some of these countries can’t afford proper screening to identify HIV-positive individuals. Others don’t have the refrigeration needed for various treatments. Additionally, most of these nations can’t afford to provide treatment for people who can’t afford it themselves.

This means that, at least for now, the war on HIV is about preventing its spread. This means education for those in the highest risk categories for becoming infected. It also means developing regular and affordable screening for all. These are some of the goals that major contributors to the cause—such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—are working towards.

In the meantime, it is important for everyone to follow safe sex practices to avoid contracting HIV. It also involves a willingness to get tested. Finally, it means sticking closely to a treatment regimen if you are infected with the disease. This is what individuals can do to play a role in eliminating HIV and AIDS for good. It is a wonderful goal: to once again see a world without AIDS.