AIDS can be defeated by the year 2030, a top UN official said at a press conference on Thursday. Medical science has made great progress in the treatment and control of the infection, which could lead to its end in a couple of decades.
"I think that 2030 is a viable target to say that we have reached the end of the epidemic," said Luis Loures, a deputy executive director of UNAIDS, at the press meet held in Panama, AFP reported.
Of course, the disease won't completely disappear completely. "HIV will continue existing as a case here or there but not at the epidemic level we have today," he said.
The burden of HIV/AIDS is higher in low to middle income countries. India currently accounts for 11.4 percent of total global deaths from HIV/AIDS. The other countries with highest burden of deaths due to AIDS are South Africa (14.6%), Nigeria (11.1%), Tanzania (5.7%) and Mozambique (4.7 %.).
AIDS no Longer a Death Sentence
Availability of low-cost generic drugs, access to screening and healthcare and awareness about the disease has improved chances of survival after diagnosis of HIV/AIDS.
Two decades ago, treating HIV in just one person would cost about $19,000 per annum, but now it costs just about $150. Even the incidence of new HIV infections has come down, with some Sub-Saharan African countries showing a decrease of 50 percent, AFP reported. Many people now have access to early treatment, which leads to higher chances of survival.
According to statistics by the World Health Organization, in 2012 about 9.7 million people living in poor countries were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV.
"We can get to the end of the epidemic because we have treatments and ways to control the infection," Loures added. "We are making progress, without a doubt." Loures is in Panama to discuss AIDS strategy with UN agencies in Latin America.
AIDS Cure Could Soon be a Reality
For decades, researchers have been trying to find a cure for HIV/AIDS. Recently, scientists at Brigham and Women's Hospital reported two cases where HIV positive people receiving bone-marrow transplant had lower levels of the virus in their body. Also, a team of U.S. doctors announced that they had successfully "cured" a baby of HIV.