The history of public health is full of aspirational campaigns. But do statements like “the end of AIDS” help or hurt? Do they motivate action, or do they risk incredulity, leading to inaction? In a new paper published in Science, End of AIDS: Hype versus Hope, ICAP’s Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, director, Ms. Katherine Harripersaud, and Dr. Ronald Bayer, Mailman School professor of Sociomedical Sciences, consider these questions.
There are reasons to be optimistic about the global HIV epidemic—9.7 million people with HIV have gained access to treatment since 2001, ART is being initiated earlier, and new pediatric infections are rare in several countries. The authors caution, however, that, “implying imminent success may be perceived as minimizing the challenges that remain, resulting in the withdrawal of resources and a consequent resurgence of the presumed “controlled” disease.”
Despite the risk of donor fatigue and loss of momentum in the face of recognized challenges, the authors assert that substantial advances can be made in the AIDS epidemic through concerted effort and sustained commitment. “Envisioning a world without epidemic AIDS is a deeply profound concept. Let this be the rallying cry.”