International Community Must Redouble Efforts To Ensure 'Many' AIDS-Free Generations

Lancet editorial discusses the agenda of the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington last month and asks how the success of the conference will be judged at the XX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014), to be held in Melbourne, Australia. “The return of the conference to the U.S. after 22 years, [was not only] a focus for celebration, but also provided a platform for vocal objection to the ban on injecting drug users and sex workers from entering the U.S.,” the editorial states, adding that “the absence of these groups from the meeting is rightly seen by many as a hindrance to developing approaches to combat the epidemic in regions where the disease is concentrated in these populations.”

Noting “the slogan that will define AIDS 2012 is ‘AIDS-free generation,'” the editorial continues, “There was a real feeling that, with the range of interventions to prevent transmission (e.g., condoms, male circumcision, treatment as prevention, and now pre-exposure prophylaxis in key groups) and drugs that slow disease progression in those infected with the virus, the elimination of AIDS is a real possibility.” However, “[d]espite recent treatment advances, the epidemic still rages in men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, injecting drug users, and prison populations in various regions around the world,” it adds. It concludes, “An AIDS-free generation is achievable,” but “one AIDS-free generation is not enough — we must also redouble efforts to identify vaccines and cures, to ensure many AIDS-free, and eventually HIV-free, generations” (September 2012).