After more than 30 years of struggle against the most serious health challenge of our time, we now have the means to end the AIDS epidemic once and for all. Research results released in 2011 found that early antiretroviral therapy reduces by 96 percent the risk of HIV transmission within couples where one partner is HIV-positive and the other HIV-negative. Research results released in 2011 showed that early treatment could reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 96 percent.
In addition, three separate studies determined that administration of antiretrovirals is also useful in HIV-negative people, who are significantly less likely to become infected if they take the drugs prior to sexual exposure. Other studies showed pre-exposure prophylaxis significantly reduced the risk of getting infected with HIV.
Modeling exercises indicate that these tools, if used in combination with other prevention methods that already exist, could break the back of the epidemic. Were a preventive vaccine or other prevention breakthroughs to emerge in coming years, the timeline to end AIDS could be dramatically shortened.
In short, an “exit strategy” for AIDS is in sight. The 2012 edition of the Black AIDS Institute’s annual report on the State of AIDS in Black America focuses on our historic opportunity to end AIDS in our lifetime. The report identifies how far we have to go to achieve success and what we need to do.