- Title: Paris AIDS conference highlights funding challenges and hopes for HIV cure
- Date: 24th July 2017
- Summary: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (FILE) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS) PRESCRIPTIONS COUNTER IN PHARMACY VARIOUS OF PHARMACIST PACKING ARV TABLETS IN BOTTLES VARIOUS OF ARVs BOTTLE ON COUNTER
- Embargoed: 7th August 2017 17:27
- Keywords: president science hopes for cure Paris International Aids Society Linda-Gail Bekker HIV AIDS treatment IAS conference funding
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE / LAGOS, NIGERIA / JOHANNESBURG & PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA / MOGADISHU, SOMALIA
- City: PARIS, FRANCE / LAGOS, NIGERIA / JOHANNESBURG & PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA / MOGADISHU, SOMALIA
- Country: France
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Reuters ID: LVA0066R2V8SN
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: President of the International Aids Society (IAS), Linda-Gail Bekker, said she is hopeful about the AIDS epidemic being controlled and reduced through scientific advances, but highlighted concern over proposed cuts to global funding at a Paris conference on Monday (July 24).
The United Nations HIV/AIDS agency said last week that 19.5 million people - more than half of the 37 million patients with HIV - are now on treatment.
However, there are still "another 17 odd million who need treatment today and we haven't found those people. Many of them are in regions of the world such as West Africa, Central Africa, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, that we just haven't got to, so that's very concerning," Bekker said.
Three decades after approval of the first-ever AIDS treatment, HIV medicine is seeing a new wave of innovation with scientists reporting positive data on Monday (July 24) for improved drug cocktails and a novel experimental vaccine.
Researchers believe such advances are necessary to stay ahead of a virus that can all too often develop resistance to medicines, despite the use since 1996 of three- or four-drug combinations that mean HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence.
Bekker is optimistic about being able to control the AIDS epidemic through ongoing research, innovation and breakthroughs, but "it's going to need ongoing programmatic funding to enable us to do this. So the appeal is that the funding will go on," she said, adding that the U.S government's pronouncements about wanting to cut back on international aid and funding were "very concerning."
The IAS president also talked about the case of a South African girl born with HIV who has surprised experts by appearing to be effectively cured of the AIDS virus after just a year of treatment followed by eight and a half years drug-free.
Patients with HIV would normally need to stay on antiretroviral (ART) drugs for the rest of their lives to keep AIDS at bay. But this child, still off treatment and now almost 10 years old, has no signs of the disease.
This and other recent, isolated cases of remission have given additional hope to the 37 million people worldwide infected with the virus that causes AIDS.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has killed around 35 million people worldwide since it began in the 1980s.
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