The end of ‘Ending HIV’

It’s done, folks, stick a fork in it.  The highly respected epidemiologist and World Bank Global AIDS Program Director David Wilson posted today that talk of ‘ending AIDS in a generation’ or ‘ending HIV by 2030’ is neither realistic nor helpful.  He writes:

The Durban 2016 AIDS Conference marks the end of “ending the HIV epidemic” as a feasible goal with the tools we have. We need new and better tools. Talk of ending AIDS has led to a widespread perception in the broader health and development community that this crisis is over. It isn’t and continued exhortations that we can end the AIDS epidemic with our existing armory may further undermine global recognition of and commitment to address this epidemic.

I have been incredibly critical of the way this discourse was premised on the idea that behavioural and social prevention strategies have failed.  Recently I acknowledged ‘Ending HIV’ was a tactical move by very experienced policy advocates to maintain global and local funding for HIV prevention and treatment in the face of the global financial crisis.  But although we have new knowledge and biomedical strategies like TasP and PrEP, the obstacles to gaining their full benefit remain, as always, behavioural and social.

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