Eliminating HIV: Progress, Possibilities, and Roadblocks

 

If you’re not thinking about HIV, why would you go to an HIV clinic?

Anthony Fauci Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID...
Session

Eliminating HIV: Progress, Possibilities, and Roadblocks

Setup

Can we end the HIV epidemic in the next five years? President Trump pledged in February to do just that, but it will take vigorous research, aggressive outreach, new global commitments, better access to evidence-based treatment, attitude changes — and resources. Although the viral infection has drawn less attention in recent years, some 37 million people still live with HIV/AIDS, including one million in the United States; 5,000 new infections occur every day; and AIDS killed 940,000 people in 2017. Hear from powerhouse scientists and preeminent thought leaders, including some who have been fighting AIDS before it even had a name, about how we reach our ambitious goals.

Why are communities struggling to utilize existing tools for HIV prevention?
Why are communities struggling to utilize existing tools for HIV prevention?
There’s no substitute for an HIV vaccine
Progress means meeting people where they are
The gay community in the 1980s is a model for community response to HIV
Combating HIV offers some unexpected benefits for youth health
1.

Why are communities struggling to utilize existing tools for HIV prevention?

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01:09

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), says some communities are slow to adopt live-saving HIV prevention and treatment methods.

2.

There’s no substitute for an HIV vaccine

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09:32

While James Curran, dean at the Rollins School of Public Health, raves about the incredible breakthroughs that have changed HIV prevention and treatment, he cautions that these tools simply aren’t sufficient. Antiretroviral drugs can control existing infections and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP) can drastically reduce cases of HIV, but the scale of the current epidemic requires something bigger. 

We’re not talking about something that’s going to be over with. If we’re successful, we’ll still have 30 or 40 million people in therapy for 30 or 40 years.
James Curran

With 10s of millions of HIV-positive individuals around the world living with the disease, Curran thinks a vaccine that completely stops the spread of the disease should be the ultimate goal.

3.

Progress means meeting people where they are

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12:57

Claire Sterk, president of Emory University, says HIV researchers should put individuals and communities first when working to fight HIV. (This quote has been edited and condensed for clarity)

  • Claire Sterk: We have a lot of people who fall through the cracks. We talk about discrimination, racism, classism, and lack of access, and all of that’s the case. But when you really go into communities and talk to people who are at risk or are infected, it means nothing. It’s about the whole person, the whole community...We need to get smarter about the science of understanding people and meeting people where they are, otherwise we will continue to have a gap between what we could do and what we’re doing.”

Advances in treatment are only as effective as their implementation strategies, and when researchers don’t take the extra step of building community trust and understanding, they won’t see the results the treatments promise. 

4.

The gay community in the 1980s is a model for community response to HIV

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18:47

What does a community that’s mobilizing to combat HIV look like? What can other communities learn from those who were successful? Anthony Fauci says look to the gay community in the 1980s, when people came together to fight HIV:

5.

Combating HIV offers some unexpected benefits for youth health

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32:10

The HIV epidemic globally is mostly impacting young people. Figuring out how to get young people tested and treated for HIV is a problem many communities can’t solve. But Mark Dybul, co-director of the Center for Global Health and Quality, sees opportunities to couple HIV intervention with other health prevention measures for young people.

HIV deaths among adolescents have tripled over the past two decades, according to the World Health Organization, and the vast majority of new adolescent HIV infections occur in Africa.

Dybul stresses that young people don’t seek out health care overall, not just for HIV. But if care providers can combine health care for mental health with HIV care, for example, not only will it be easier to deal with complications in treating HIV, but the general health of youth communities would  drastically improve.

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Additional Information

Glossary

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP)

PreP is a pill used as a preventative measure for those with a high risk of contracting HIV, which, when used properly, can substantially reduce HIV infection rates.

Resources

2019 HIV Prevention Progress Report — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

HIV Treatment: The Basics — National Institutes of Health

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