Are we winning or losing our decades-long fight against HIV and AIDS?

01 August 2022
 Are we winning or losing our decades-long fight against HIV and AIDS?

‘The HIV epidemic is not over’, read the title of a 2018 report by the World Health Organization marking the 30th anniversary of the World’s AIDS Day. Now four years later, the alarm bell over HIV and AIDS is being rung again, as the United Nations says progress in the fight against the disease has faltered.

It’s not that the situation hasn’t drastically improved since the 1980s, when thousands of people were dying around the world without the possibility of treatment, often having received a diagnosis only a few weeks or months before the disease killed them.

The fear and stigma around having HIV and AIDS has mostly been replaced by awareness of the virus and the disease it causes.

 Lifesaving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) were developed in record time by researchers in the 1990s, turning a diagnosis that used to be a death sentence into something that could be kept under control. Since then, ARVs have saved thousands of lives.

At its peak in 2004, the virus killed 2 million people worldwide. Since then, huge progress has been made thanks to gargantuan efforts worldwide, and AIDS-related deaths have dropped by 68 per cent.