Since the first cases were discovered in California in 1981, an entire generation has lived under the malevolent shadow of this terrible pandemic.
At present, more than 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV, around 1.2 million in the United States. More than 30 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.
Even though the rate of new infections has fallen or stabilised in many countries, the disease remains a major health problem, as more than 1.8 million people died in 2010 due to HIV. Depending on the geographical region, many of those who died had little or no access to antiretroviral therapy.
Nevertheless, despite these data, the fight against HIV/AIDS can be viewed more optimistically than in previous years, as preventive and therapeutic measures have increased.
This means that, if these measures can be extended, the desirable goal of a generation without AIDS could be reached, thus achieving the desired objective that today’s children could live in a society in which HIV infection and death due to AIDS is rare.
This encouraging possibility can be based on the fact that since the set up of antiretroviral therapy, the number of deaths due to AIDS in the United States is two thirds lower, and that globally, it can be estimated that in 2010, 700,000 lives have been saved with the arrival of antiretroviral therapy in most developing countries.
Another optimistic finding is that antiretroviral therapy to prevent mother/child transmission prevented the infection of 350,000 newborns by HIV in 2010 (JAMA 308; 343-344, 2012).
All these data mean that we can hopefully ask the question heading this note: Can AIDS be beaten in the next generation?