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IRF News

Throwing in the towel?

“As we celebrate the extraordinary progress, we should also be conscious that we will not stop HIV and AIDS by just having more sophisticated drugs and only focussing on the generalised epidemic and not focussing enough on the complexities of the concentrated epidemics.”

The worrisome groups are fairly clearly defined: Injecting drug users, who can pass the AIDS virus to each other by sharing needles and syringes, prostitutes and sex workers, who are often criminalised and have little access to health service, and gay and bisexual men – the population in which the HIV epidemic first started.

Outside of sub-Saharan Africa most of HIV/AIDS can be classed as concentrated epidemics. Time and time again the same cohorts are affected; this is good reason to doubt the infectious hypothesis and to investigate the myriad variables of these groups.

…Andrée, a drug user he met in Paris in 1986 … had no hope of effective HIV treatment, since there was none yet developed, and … ultimately died a lonely death. The second was Larissa from Yekaterinburg in Russia, a drug addict repeatedly arrested and locked up, deprived of medications for years and at one time sentenced to five years in a labour camp.

“These stories are remarkably similar,” he said.

Yes, they’re both drug abusers.

“In MSM populations, there is no sign it has decreased,” he said. “It has either been a stable number of new infections every year for 10 years, or it is an increasing trend. And this, in western Europe at least, is in the context of basically free and easy access to therapy and services.”

Elsewhere, in China, for example, gay men alone account for more than 33 percent of new HIV infections, and projections indicate that gay men may account for half or more of all new infections in Asia by 2020.

Kazatchkine admits that he is as frustrated and worried now, faced with these smaller but relentless HIV epidemics, as he was more than a decade ago when the vast generalised HIV and AIDS outbreak in Africa looked too overwhelming to begin to tackle.

“We are a bit in disarray. We don’t know quite what it is that we should do. Here we are, we have all the technology, we have extraordinary scientific progress, and we just cannot translate that into making a difference in these populations.”

Yet if nothing changes, the AIDS virus may never be beaten.

The AIDS virus will never be beaten because there is no AIDS virus. All the technology in the world will not help to verify a bankrupt hypothesis.

[Source: Reuters]

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