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Neil G. Giuliano

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Summoning the Strength to End AIDS

Posted: 08/02/2012 2:00 pm

The 19th International AIDS Conference (known as AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., has come to a close. This major gathering of the global AIDS community happens every two years, and it's a chance for us to learn from one another so that we can employ the best and most innovative practices to stop HIV/AIDS.

There were big headlines from the conference. We learned that two more HIV-positive people who underwent bone marrow stem cell transplants now have no traces of HIV in their bodies. We learned that young black gay men are becoming infected with HIV at three times the rate of their white counterparts, and up to 68% of transgender women in North America are living with HIV. We learned that in the very near future, more than half of all people living with HIV will be over the age of 50. All of these findings have huge implications for our work moving forward.

But there were many smaller, less-noticed moments at the conference too. I was deeply moved by the solemn reading of names at the display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall. I was honored to meet people who have been in the fight against HIV/AIDS from the beginning, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Michael Gottlieb, Diane Havalir, and many others. At the youth component of the conference in the Global Village, I was struck to see many more young people from other countries than from the U.S. This tells me we must do more to reach youth in our country and engage them in our prevention work.

Most importantly, AIDS 2012 is a reminder that, despite great progress we've made to reduce new HIV infections and expand access to care, we still have a lot of work to do. This year alone, some 50,000 people will become infected with HIV nationwide. We learned last week that among the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, just one in four has the virus under control.

Now more than ever we have the tools at our disposal to truly end AIDS. But our nation, and indeed the entire world, must summon the strength and the resources to stop this disease once and for all. It's going to take hard work and a strong commitment from leaders at all levels of government. We've made so many gains in the past 30 years; now is the time to fight even harder to realize the day when HIV/AIDS is history. We can do this.


AIDS 2012 "Turning the Tide Together"
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People view AIDS Memorial Quilt on National Mall, July 22, 2012. Photo: Liz Highleyman.
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