HIV Developments: The Good and the Bad

The World Health Organization estimates 35 million people and more than 1 million people in the US have AIDS. Further, 18% of Americans with HIV are unaware of their infections.

Nevertheless, over the last decade, the US has made major strides in reducing HIV incidence. The BBC reports that a new JAMA study found that:

the [HIV] diagnosis rate [in the US] fell to 16.1 per 100,000 people in 2011 from 24.1 in 2002

Even this figures may understimate the declining incidnece. Over the past decade, HIV testing has rose, indicating that the true drop in incidence may be even larger than the numbers presented above.

Although there is much uplifting HIV news on the macro in the US, current events have not been as hopeful. A number of AIDS researchers have died on the Malaysia flight MH17. Vox reports:

The HIV/AIDS community is mourning the loss of Joep Lange, a prominent HIV researcher and former president of the International AIDS Society, who died on flight MH17 on his way to an international AIDS conference.

“Joep is one of our giants in terms of AIDS research and AIDS access to treatment and care in poor places around the world,” said Richard Marlink, executive director of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative. “He worked in Thailand on vaccines, in Africa on access to care and medical education. On top of all that was just a gem of a person.”

A Dutch citizen, Lange was professor of medicine and head of the department of global health at the University of Amsterdam. He had been involved in HIV treatment and research since 1983, just as the virus was emerging as a global health threat.

Lange was one of the key researchers behind several pivotal antiretroviral therapy trials, including projects involving the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the virus in both the developing and developed world, according to the Amsterdam Institute of Global Health and Development.

And this is just one of the people killed on MH17. Other AIDS researchers who died in the crash include:

  • Pim de Kuijer, STOP AIDS NOW!
  • Lucie van Mens, Director, AIDS Action Europe
  • Maria Adriana de Schutter, AIDS Action Europe
  • Glenn Thomas, World Health Organisation
  • Jacqueline van Tongeren, Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development

A tragedy, but their work lives on.


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