It's Been 40 Years Since The Onset Of The AIDS Epidemic. Why Hasn't More Progress Been Made?
June 5 of 2021 marked 40 years since the first cases were reported of what later became known as AIDS —
the late stage of infection that occurs when the body's immune system is badly damaged by the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.
Four decades later, HIV/AIDS has claimed 700,000 American lives and is still an ongoing epidemic. There were an estimated 1.5 million new infections worldwide in 2020.
While there have been major achievements toward preventing the spread of HIV such as antiretroviral therapy and drugs like PrEP, communities continue to see infections — with some even experiencing an increase in new diagnoses during the pandemic — and a vaccine does not exist.
Why has HIV/AIDS largely faded from public view? Why has the U.S. government not been more proactive in the fight against AIDS? Why do Americans no longer treat it like the public health crisis it is? Has COVID-19 further derailed U.S. progress on HIV/AIDS?
What's the latest news on HIV vaccination research and trials? Are researchers still struggling to find a workable design? How has coronavirus vaccine research helped? And can knowledge gained from the HIV epidemic be applied to work to battle COVID-19?
What are the parallels of disjointed responses to both the AIDS epidemic and the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and beyond?
What more can be done to increase visibility for and take away the stigma from persons living with HIV/AIDS?
- Dr. Cherise Rohr-Allegrini, Ph.D., MPH, infectious disease epidemiologist and CEO of the San Antonio AIDS Foundation
- Dr. Barbara Taylor, MD, MS, associate professor of infectious diseases and lead ECHO Hub Specialist with the South Central AIDS Education and Training Center at UT Health San Antonio
- Tracy Jones, Midwest regional director and national director of mobilization campaigns for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation
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*This interview was recorded on Wednesday, June 30.