South Africa's bid to end AIDS

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Science  01 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6294, pp. 18-21
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6294.18

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South Africa has more people living with HIV, an estimated 6.6 million, than any country in the world. About half are now receiving antiretroviral (ARV) treatment, which has greatly stressed the country's health care system. Now, South Africa plans to encourage all infected people to learn their status and start treatment as part of the drive to end its epidemic. The cornerstone of the campaign is the fact that HIV-infected people who take ARVs and fully suppress their virus rarely transmit to others. Mathematical models suggest that 73% of the infected population has to achieve this to slow spread and start the epidemic's downward spiral. South Africa has pledged to hit this target by 2020, in keeping with a global goal set by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, but many experts doubt it can succeed by then—and others question the model itself. When the biannual International AIDS Conference takes place in Durban, South Africa, later this month, these issues likely will be in center stage.

  • * in South Africa; The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting provided support for the reporting in this story.

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