Hope amid frustration as World AIDS Day approaches

World AIDs DayThirty-four million people live with HIV today, and 1.7 million became newly infected in 2011.  But on the eve of World AIDS Day, many experts see room for some optimism.

Studies now show that identifying — and effectively treating — people who are HIV-positive early in the course of their infections will not only reduce sickness and deaths for those patients but will also reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others. That’s because the antiretroviral medications keep the levels of virus low in a patient’s body.

For those reasons, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force this month released draft advice for the government and U.S. physicians proposing that HIV screens should be routine for most people — not just those whose behavior puts them at high risk. A commentary by AIDS experts published in the Canadian journal CMAJ suggested the same thing for our neighbors to the north. The advice is in line with CDC guidelines as well as with ones from a variety of medical groups.

“Yet less than a third of HIV-infected people in the United States are being treated successfully for their infection such that the virus is fully suppressed, and similarly low percentages have been observed in other countries,” noted a statement released by the National Institutes of Health. It was coauthored by Dr. Anthony Fauci (director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), Jack Whitescarver (director of the NIH Office of AIDS Research) and NIH director Dr. Francis Collins.

Full story of world aids day at Los Angeles Times

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