August 7, 2017

An IAS 2017 wrap-up: Between unprecedented success and unprecedented threats, HIV fight confronts complacency, apathy — and resistance

Written by Antigone Barton

This article originally appeared on Science Speaks.

For all the more incremental advances and continuing challenges that would be discussed during the days that followed, the report released by UNAIDS before the 9th International AIDS Society conference began in Paris last week offered an irrefutably validating and concrete measure of progress: For the first time since HIV had been recognized, more people living with the virus were receiving treatment than not.

That news, along with data indicating that testing and treatment goals for 2020, set with the aim of ending the global health threat posed by HIV by 2030, could be reached, highlighted another measure of progress: Global health, funding and policy leaders had travelled too far from the time when some had questioned the point of fighting the pandemic in low-income countries to turn back now.

Scientists and activists who spoke in the days that followed also highlighted how the HIV pandemic and the responses it required had altered the landscapes of health and policy, with recognition that responses to infectious diseases are not optional, that funding to fight those diseases represent investments rather than expenses, and that services must adapt to reach those who need them.