Are we winning the global fight against AIDS?
I remember first reading about AIDS in the early 1980s. Then AIDs was diagnosed in fewer than 20 patients in the U.S. Millions of Africans were infected, but there was no way to detect this.
Dr. Michel Kazatchkine was one of the physicians involved in the early diagnosis of AIDs when two Frenchmen returned from a trip to Africa with signs of a mysterious illness. He is the UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Dr. Kazatchkine was a keynote speaker at the International Council of Nurses (ICN), where I presented two papers recently in Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Kazatchkine explained that the African epidemic spread unchecked for another 20 years before patients began receiving treatment. Meanwhile in the U.S., drug companies were rapidly developing medications for infected patients.
Keys to Winning the Global Fight Against AIDS
Winning the global fight against AIDs has resulted in an astounding 25% decrease in five years in mortality from AIDs and the number of new infections. Dr. Kazatchkine defined several factors that were key to achieving this remarkable progress:
- Activism and social mobilization against the inequity of access to care
- A widespread push for the concept that health is a human right with pressure on governments to fulfill their responsibilities
- Global political commitment to funding for health
- Provision of aid through new global mechanisms and partnerships with accountability for performance of programs
- Simplified medication regimens which reduced the need for 10 pills three times a day to one pill once a day
- Simplified treatment regimens that may be followed by health workers, including nurses without requiring the involvement of a physician
The battle has not been completely won. There are still 8 million people in urgent need of AIDs treatment, but in a global context, that has changed significantly from what it was 10 years ago. The U.S. provides more financial support for winning the global fight against AIDs by funding treatment than any other country. Of that we should be proud.
Pat Iyer MSN RN LNCC is president of Med League and the Pat Iyer Group. She presented two papers at ICN in May 2013: Patient Education through Teleseminars and The Impact of Bullying.