World AIDS Day – December 1 – seeks greater progress in AIDS treatment and prevention
BY SANDRA GUY
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the number of people who have requested an HIV test, researchers continue to explore new ways to prevent and treat HIV infection.
Work is also continuing on better understand the virus to find a cure. HIV causes AIDS.
These efforts demand more attention than ever this year on World aids day, recognized on December 1, which encourages everyone to “rock the ribbon”. The motto urges everyone to wear a red ribbon to help with AIDS awareness and research funds – in your school, workplace or community.
No one wants COVID to interfere with the progress of HIV and AIDS. But due to COVID infection concerns, the number of people in 2020 who requested an HIV test fell 22% from the previous year, and the number who opted for prevention services HIV decreased by 12%, according to the Global Fund, an advocacy group. which funds campaigns against HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.
Still, encouraging news and trends remain.
Overall, HIV deaths have fallen by 51% over the past 20 years, dropping to 19e leading cause of death worldwide in 2019, the latest data available, the eighth cause in 2000, according to the World Health Organization.
HIV first gained worldwide attention in the 1980s. It has infected 76 million people since then and 38 million people are living with the virus, according to AIDS Resource websites.
Most people living with HIV take antiretroviral drugs daily to suppress the virus and reduce their viral load.
But hope abounds. Two pharmaceutical giants – Gilead Sciences Inc. and Merck & Co. – have joined forces to develop long-acting anti-HIV therapy, the next frontier in the treatment of the disease. They are investigating whether a combination of two experimental drugs, which the companies had studied separately, could treat HIV even if taken every several months. And they plan to test a pill version soon, according to media reports.
In addition, a study found that up to 4 percent of HIV carriers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were able to suppress the virus. Less than 1 percent of people living with HIV are able to do so, typically.
Mary Rodgers, lead scientist on the study and head of Abbott’s global viral surveillance program, told the BBC
that understanding how the group was able to maintain low or undetectable viral loads would be crucial in controlling the virus.
Twitter: December 1st is #WorldAIDSDay, a day to come together for #EndHIVEpidemic across the world. We all have a role to play, so #StopHIVTogether. # WAD2020 http://bit.ly/2TkF0a7
Instagram: #WorldAIDSDay # WAD2020 #StopHIVTogether #EndHIVEpidemic #HIV