Roadblocks to eliminating AIDS

When I was finishing up my degree I taught graduate school courses on pathology. One topic that I was extremely interested in was HIV/AIDS. I had become interested in the topic in my undergraduate virology course when I had to help develop a class presentation on the virus.

Since then I've written several articles and commentaries on the subject. Recently I wrote a news update on the clinical trials of the newest prevention technique - vaginal gel. Unfortunately, many of the latest trials have had to be halted due to the lack of usage among participants. Organizations are testing the female-based methods in Africa, the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic. Only 10% of women used the gel as directed! Several dropped out of the trial due to pregnancy. 1/4 of the women who initially signed up for the trial couldn't participate because they were already infected with HIV and didn't know it.

It's a shocking realization that after 25 years, there is still a place on the planet where condom use and HIV infection is not taken seriously. Thousands of children die or are made orphans by their parents deaths each day. Women and children are half of the victims. And the traditional high risk groups are no longer the ones to watch. Heterosexual partners of a high risk person is the largest growing group of HIV patients! Even in the United States, the prevalence of HIV infection is equivalent to the late 1980s according to the latest information released by the CDC.

I'm just stunned, that as the number of infections and deaths has gone up, the level of prevention has not changed. You can bet that I'll still be writing on this in ten years, just as I was almost ten years ago. I hope it's to say that infection rates are down, but I doubt it will be about a cure. The virus is too able to adapt. It has to be stopped before it starts. Prevention!

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