opinion: Beating HIV will take more than just vaccines, medicine
Facing HIV and Stigma, published July 26, was insightful and addressed some important issues, but it left me devastated that a second young man knowingly contracted HIV. The World Health Organization recommendation and standard protocol in the United States is now to put people on Anti-Retro Viral (ARV) medicines as soon as they are diagnosed with HIV, specifically to stop new infections.
A study recently concluded that even in the absence of condoms and other means of protection, new transmissions of HIV were reduced by 96 percent when infected individuals were on ARV's. This is because the amount of virus in their system becomes so small that there is a good chance none will be in any blood, semen, or vaginal fluid that reaches a sexual partner. We are close to having a vaccine for HIV. Until then all people with HIV, here and around the world, should be receiving ARV's so we can stop the spread of AIDS and improve the health outcomes of those who are already infected. As was pointed out in the last week's International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC, we now have the means to get to an AIDS-free world. The question is, do we have the political and personal will to get there.