AIDS COULD BE ELIMINATED IN OUR LIFETIME BUT PROBABLY WON’T BE
April 3 2012
Paris, France – There has been no plague quite like HIV and AIDS in the long history of humanity. It is easily the most potent of diseases we have ever encountered, being 100 per cent fatal, and very easy to catch, exploiting our most primal of activities. AIDS though has not been incredibly destructive, killing only a small segment of the population, making it the most fearsome and least lethal disease in history.
True, the disease has killed millions of people but relative to the population that is very small. Other diseases, like say the Black Plague or the Spanish Flu, completely altered human society forever. AIDS, unless you are directly impacted by it, has had little or no impact on the world as a whole, barely even a blip in fact.
It is, however, perhaps the most feared of modern diseases. That fear has served us well, allowing us to stem the flow of the virus and put billions of dollars into researching how to overcome its effects. It is that fear which has downgraded the impact of HIV and AIDS, that which has made it such a non-event. Now it appears we may be on the verge of eradicating the disease entirely, possibly in our lifetime, rendering one more disease to history, though that probably won’t happen because scientists and drug companies can be kind if jerks.
“I believe in science. If not now, in the long term, we will find other strategies. My dream is to see the end of HIV before I die,” said Francoise Barre-Sinoussi
who discovered the virus in 1982. “It is a dream for us to have a treatment with the capacity to cure. It means we can use the tools that we already have at our disposal.”
Thus far, 30 million people have died from the disease and an additional 30 million are currently infected, relying on expensive drugs to keep them alive.
New advances including aggressive anti-retroviral treatments which can prevent transmission are not widely in use and very, very expensive.
“The advances in attacking AIDS and HIV have really been remarkable and almost solely a result of the massive amounts of money plunged into research. Some of that has been public, donated money, but the vast majority has been an investment by drug companies who, obviously, wan to recoup their investment. For that, they need people to remain sick,” said Scrape TV Health analyst Rebecca Phelps. “Drugs for healthy people are not nearly as potent. People will buy them but not because they have to. That is a great selling point, having people’s lives in jeopardy. That sells a lot of drugs to a lot of people and it isn’t something they are going to just want to give up without a fight.”
Many drug companies have been resistant to reductions in prices for poor people, though costs have dropped in recent years, perhaps as companies realized that something is better than nothing.
“It would be great for people with the disease to have a cure but not for anyone else. All these scientists who work on the disease, all these companies, and all these charities, they would all lose if a cure was found and that isn’t something they are just going to rush towards,” continued Phelps. “They would all put on a good face if it happened but obviously it isn’t something they would prefer because why would they. I mean it’s nice to cure deadly diseases but this is business after all.”
AIDS officials had no comment on Barre-Sinoussi’s comments, though most would prefer she just shut up.
Lauren Hebert, Health Correspondent