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Drug Treatments, Scientific Advances Fuel Hope For HIV Control As AIDS 2012 Conference Draws Near

“A cure for AIDS remains a distant prospect but a host of drug treatments and other advances have fueled fresh hope that new [HIV] infections may someday be halted for good,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Strategies for ending the 30-year AIDS epidemic through advances in treatment, testing and prevention are high on the agenda of” the XIX International AIDS Conference, “when it returns to the United States next week after two decades,” according to the news agency (Sheridan, 7/14). “Thanks to drugs that can control the virus for decades, AIDS is no longer a death sentence,” Reuters writes in an article examining AIDS vaccine research. “New infections have fallen by 21 percent since the peak of the pandemic in 1997 and advances in prevention — through voluntary circumcision programs, prevention of mother-to-child transmission and early treatment — promise to cut that rate even more,” the news service states (Steenhuysen, 7/15).

Gottfried Hirnschall, director of the WHO’s HIV Department, said in an interview with AFP, “The key is figuring out how to best manage the latest advances.” He added these strategies will be “a central conversation at the conference — the appropriate initiation for treatment and also how to best take advantage of antiretrovirals for prevention more broadly speaking,” the news service notes (Sheridan, 7/16). NPR’s “Shots” blog examines the impact of generic AIDS drugs made available through PEPFAR, writing, “Since 2003, much of the treatment dispensed in hard-hit countries has come in the form of generic versions of previously expensive drugs.” The blog highlights a study published in Health Affairs last week (Aguirre, 7/13).

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