World AIDS Conference 2012 seeks an AIDS-free generation

September 11, 2012

This year's International AIDS Conference looked toward a generation free of AIDS.

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.

A look back, a look ahead

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."

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.

Challenges in outreach

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."