On July 22, 2012, the opening day media briefing in Washington, D.C., for the 19th International AIDS Conference featured scientific findings slated for publication in the July 25 HIV/AIDS-theme issue of JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) summarized "Towards an AIDS-free generation." Fauci reported that "the number of new infections is finally just now declining, but the burden of disease exacts an enormous toll: 1.8 million deaths in 2010 alone," and an entire generation that has grown up under the "constant cloud of this modern-day plague."
According to Fauci, antiretroviral therapy (ART) has cut the annual number of deaths due to HIV/AIDS by "two-thirds in the U.S. and has saved an estimated 700,000 individual lives in 2010 alone" in low- and middle-income countries. ART can also reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission, and "makes it less likely the virus will be transmitted to others." Other strategies, such as male circumcision, and potentially, pre-exposure prophylaxis with antiretroviral medicines, "could have an extraordinary effect on decreasing the trajectory of the HIV pandemic."
However, two scientific challenges remain: development of a vaccine — and development of a cure.
"New research and advances in structure-based vaccine design suggest that an HIV vaccine is feasible," but the prospect of an HIV cure "remains challenging," said Fauci.
Presenting demographic findings from "HIV in persons born outside the United States 2007-2010," HIV surveillance chief H. Irene Hall, PhD, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, stated that the survey of 25,255 persons diagnosed with HIV represented five different birth origins. Leading the regions is Central America, including Mexico (41%), followed by the Caribbean (21%), Africa (14.5%), Asia (7.9%), and South America (7.6%).
"Our surveillance study found a higher risk for this group, as it is less likely they will have access to testing and care, due to language and/or cultural differences," said Hall. These findings emphasize that "culturally relevant interventions and education by public health education and outreach is essential."