Health

Clinton lauds headway in battle against AIDS

Monday, July 23, 2012

Health experts attending the 2012 International AIDS Conference made a strong statement Monday, declaring we are now at the beginning of the end of the AIDS epidemic.

Entertainer Elton John has long been an AIDS awareness advocate.

"The AIDS disease is caused by a virus, but the AIDS epidemic is not," he said.

There is no cure for AIDS and no vaccine, yet the spread of the disease can finally be stopped.

At the 19th International AIDS Conference held in Washington, advocates and scientists spoke of an "AIDS-free generation," thanks to the tools now out there.

Taking meds like the recently approved drug Truvada, before contracting HIV reduces the risk of infecting others and treatment for those already with HIV is helping to stop the epidemic from spreading.

"We know that treatment is profoundly effective in preventing new HIV infections," Dr. Diane Havlir of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute said.

But here's the problem: only one in four infected Americans has the virus under control, which means three out of four are not getting the necessary treatment or are not getting any type of treatment or don't know their status. This happens particularly in the African American community. A new study found black, gay men have the highest HIV infection rates -- 50 percent higher than any of their white counterparts.

Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton said the nation and the world must overcome the stigma associated with HIV.

"If we are going to beat AIDS, we can't afford to avoid sensitive conversations and we can't fail to reach the people who are at the highest risk," she said.

Kevin Bynes is with the AIDS Project East Bay.

"The big achievement is going to be to see routinized testing, to see it as common as a TB test, you know, when everybody is tested for HIV as routine health screenings," he said.

The CDC recently began a pilot program offering HIV testing at some pharmacies. One of those test sites is in East Oakland.

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AIDS, health, lyanne melendez
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