Accessibility links

Breaking News

‘Stunning’ HIV-AIDS Number Demand Attention: US Health Official

The HIV and AIDS epidemic is “still raging” around the world and requires continued attention, access to prevention, new treatments and a vaccine, a top researcher in Washington says ahead of an international conference scheduled for Vienna later this month.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health, said stigma, discrimination and rights violations are major obstacles to an effective response to HIV.

Despite growing momentum over the past few years, significant challenges remain in the fight against the disease, he told a group of reporters at VOA in Washington.

“The epidemic is still raging, despite the fact in certain countries there seems to be a decrease,” he said. “The numbers are still really very stunning…. There are 33-plus million people infected with HIV; 90 percent of them are in the developing world, and 67 percent of them are in southern Africa.”

A very brief window exists to prevent an HIV virus from becoming AIDS in a patient, he explained, making it almost impossible to eradicate with the tools we now have.

This year’s HIV and AIDS conference will explore infections in girls and women in southern Africa, as well as the fast-growing epidemics in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, he said.

Meanwhile, Cambodia continues to struggle with its own AIDS epidemic.

Mean Chhi Vun, director of the Health Ministry’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, told VOA Khmer that he will co-chair a session on the push for AIDS treatment and the expansion of programs to prevent the spread of the disease in mothers and children.

Cambodia is making headway, but it has work to do, he said.

“A surveillance program and other research in Cambodia indicated the decrease of HIV prevalence and incidence among high risk groups,” Mean Chhi Vun said. “Even though these findings reflect the success of prevention programs to prevent transmission, the rate of occurrence of new HIV infections is still high in the high risk groups and transmission among the general population continues.”