AIDS: The news just keeps getting better

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Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 2.00.55 PMUNAIDS report 2000: A decade ago, HIV/AIDS was regarded primarily as a serious health crisis. Estimates in 1991 predicted that in sub-Saharan Africa, by the end of the decade, 9 million people would be infected and 5 million would die a threefold underestimation ¦ There is now compelling evidence, presented in this report, that the trend in HIV infection will have a profound impact on future rates of infant, child and maternal mortality, life expectancy and economic growth.

UNAIDS report 2013: a 52% reduction in new HIV infections among children and a combined 33% reduction among adults and children since 2001... World closing in on Millennium Development Goal 6, globally the AIDS epidemic has been halted and reversed race is on to reach universal access to HIV treatment.

Some difference, no? says ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom. There has been major progress by the UN and other agencies to deliver antiretroviral drugs where they are needed most. But without the right drugs, none of this happens. And those drugs came from the evil pharmaceutical industry something that most people choose to ignore during their typical anti-pharma tirades.

Fifteen years ago, there were dire predictions that AIDS would completely destroy sub-Saharan Africa, as well as much of the developing world in Asia, much the same as predictions for the US in the 1980s and early 1990s when no treatments existed.

Yet, the UNAIDS report issued today shows that with outstanding research, and appropriate implementation, amazing things can happen. In particular, the report noted that new infections (children and adults) decreased by 33% between 2001 and 2012. More notably, new infections in children have dropped by 52 (!) percent since 2001.

Dr. Bloom adds, The huge decrease in childhood infections can be attributed to two factors: First, the use of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs has been shown to prevent transmission of HIV from infected men to uninfected women by 96 percent. Second, the use of these drugs during pregnancy has resulted in a 20-fold reduction in the transmission of the virus from mother to fetus. If you are looking for an example of pharmaceutical science having an impact on the world, look no further. It doesn t get any better than this.

The press release of the UNAIDS report can be found here. Also, Dr. Bloom s 2011 op-ed entitled How Far We ve Come in the Battle Against AIDS can be read here.