World Aids Day – once in a year the world is obliged to think about HIV and AIDS and all those being infected and affected. When traveling in Europe I mostly encounter a sort of fatigue or ignorance towards the topic. It seems that HIV does not posses any treat anymore, opposite to Ebola which seems to be more threatening and dangerous than any other disease or syndrome. Gays, drug users and prostitutes/escorts – those are the main focus groups so they say and again we are back within the circle having to deal with those at the margins of society. If it would be only that easy: I guess that most of the 34 million people living with HIV are not part of one of these groups – and looking to South Africa, it is indeed women carrying the heaviest burden of the pandemic. Let’s be honest: the talk about healing, about the possibility of healing just around the corner waiting to be discovered soon has added to the perception that all is fine now. Having potent medication, even Truvada as a precautionary remedy – at least for those who can afford them – is another factor fueling the feeling of safety and relive.
From a South African point of view things are different: HIV remains a treat to humanity and the war has not been won yet. The opposite is true: the false feeling of victory has given rise to a relaxation of attention and donations and support are dwindling. It looks to me that all efforts have let to the possibility of turning the tide, only to stop short before achieving it and falling in back in the mental trap or wishful thinking that having done so much should be sufficient. Hundreds of new infections per day are talking a different language in the country I am living in. And the menace of resistance even calls louder for attention than ever before. We also thought that the Mississippi Baby, treated early would show a success in treatment, only to turn out a failure. Vaccine trials didn’t achieved what we have hoped for and looking into the development of medication – there is not that much new on the horizon, rather combinations or different forms of intake.
The war is not over yet and HIV is not defeated – the goals of the world for 2015 are not achieved and we now hope for 2025 or 2030, pushing the finishing line even further away. I am not sure most people have heard or noticed how fast a Hepatitis C cure was found – and how fast the Ebola trials are moving. Most HIV cases are Sub-Saharan and it seems that this area and it’s people are not worth a more pushy effort to find a cure. It sounds sarcastic but the threat of a resistant heterosexual virus hitting the global village might be the only argument to get those who have forgotten about the danger and feeling save to engage again more actively and turn the tide and achieve zero new infections in the real sense of the word beyond the World Aids Day and some festive events during the year.
For war, oil, fight over resources, terrorism and so-called terrorism billions of Euros and Dollars are spent with ease – why not for the end of the suffering of 34 million people?