USA Today (12.01.11) - Thursday, December 01, 2011
AIDS is a declining concern among Americans, and that
complacency is a key reason the disease continues to spread,
top US health officials say.
"We are no longer in crisis mode after 30 years of HIV.
Certainly in the United States, the sense of crisis has
waned," said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National
Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.
"But the reality is that people are still becoming infected
and people are still dying of this disease."
Recent research conducted by the National Institutes of Health
found the combination of antiretroviral treatment and using
safer behaviors makes people with HIV far less likely to
transmit the virus to others. It shows "treating people with
HIV [is] 96 percent effective in reducing transmission," said
Joel Gallant of Johns Hopkins University, vice chair of the
HIV Medicine Association (HMA). "Nothing has been that
effective, not condoms, not abstinence. That should be a call
The research "brings home that treatment is prevention," said
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden. "We have the tools to stop
HIV's spread in individual patients and the tools to greatly
reduce its spread in communities."
CDC on Tuesday announced new funding for state and local
health departments to enhance HIV testing and treatment
Funding these services must be a priority, said Gallant, even
given the current climate of cash-strapped state budgets and
HIV patients on waiting lists to access medicines. "People are
getting on treatment much later, and during that time, are
potentially creating more HIV cases," he said. "It's not a
moral way to go."
HMA is concerned health care reform could make matters worse
by restructuring federal funding mechanisms, Gallant added.
The infrastructure that has been built around serving HIV/AIDS
patients could disappear, potentially creating critical gaps,