Three ways science is gaining ground in the fight against HIV/AIDS

It’s been 30 years since “AIDS” first was mentioned in a publication by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and, in just the past few years, cutting-edge scientific advancements have enabled many people worldwide to protect themselves and their loved ones from contracting this crushing disease.

Some advancements have taken root quickly in developing countries, thanks to their low cost and clearly beneficial results. Two of these — medical male circumcision and the use of drugs to prevent HIV transmission from a pregnant or breastfeeding mother to her baby — will be discussed more in-depth in future Poverty 180 blog posts.

Every day, more than 1,000 children are newly infected with HIV — mostly through mother-to-child transmission (source). About 95 percent of these infections can be prevented through the proper use of pharmaceutical drugs.

Other advancements — new pills that help prevent transmission — sound very exciting, but it will be years before we know just how useful they are to the millions of people at risk.

For example, two recent studies (click here and here) concluded that certain brands of anti-retroviral pills(ARVs), — drugs commonly known for treating HIV-positive people — also can help prevent the virus from being transmitted person-to-person, when used in a very specific manner.

“These approaches … require a long time to test and scale up before they are available to the general public,” says Kim Buttonow, MPH. She is FH’s HIV/AIDS Programs Coordinator. (photo source)

Several rounds of clinical testing plus approval by international agencies and foreign governments mean that these drugs (which also are quite expensive) could take more than 10 years to really matter to the people who need them. Still, the drugs’ test results so far have been impressive and indicative of science’s potential to one day eradicate the AIDS disease. The new studies “could help us to reach the tipping point in the HIV epidemic,” said Michel Sidibe, director of the UN’s program on HIV/AIDS (source). Meanwhile, as these and other new ARVs travel the long road from the laboratory to people’s hands, FH continues to push back on the AIDS pandemic through strategic, proven approaches to prevention.

For years, FH has implemented comprehensive prevention, treatment and care programs in AIDS-endemic countries around the world. FH field staff don’t just approach AIDS from a physical or scientific standpoint; they also employ Biblical principles that teach family values and principles for living healthy lives as God intended.  Click here to learn more.

“The important thing to remember is that there is not one ‘perfect solution,'” says Mitzi Hanold, FH training and curricula specialist. “Each person … will need to make their own decision as to what is best for them to do.”