Today was the first full day of activities at the XVIII International AIDS Conference. And what a day it was. Again, I'm amazed by the energy and excitement associated with this meeting. And at this year's conference, unlike previous AIDS conferences that I have attended, there seems to be a legitimate sense of optimism.
As we have heard from several speakers, remarkable progress has been made over the past few years. More drugs have been developed and these drugs are available to more people. Thanks to programs like PEPFAR, The Global Fund, and the Clinton Foundation, more people in developing countries are receiving antiretroviral treatment. The progress has been amazing.
But, as former president Clinton noted, this is only the end of the beginning.treatment alone is not the answer. Dr. Sharon Lewin, in a wonderful opening session talk, expertly explained why we cannot rely on treatment alone. First, studies have shown that even the best treatment regimens do not fully restore life expectancy. This, she noted, is not acceptable. Second, sh explained that treatment is not a cure. Viral reservoirs remain in the body during treatment. Virus may remain latent in resting T cells or in various tissues, such as the brain.
So what does this mean? We must continue our prevention efforts. A solution
requires increased treatment, increased testing, and increased prevention efforts.
Tomorrow - a visit to the Global Village at the conference center and a visit to a Vienna site for sex worker education.