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In this issue

Gus Cairns
Published: 25 November 2013

So here we are – this is the last issue of HIV treatment update. But it is not the end of the kind of features that HTU carried.

From now on you will be able to read interviews, news summaries and articles that analyse developments in HIV on our website, But it is the last issue of HIV treatment update in this form, and as a printed newsletter landing on your doormat or waiting for you at your clinic.

We wish it wasn’t so; but the drastic cuts to voluntary sector HIV funding that have been happening in the last two years, and which have affected NAM as they have other charities, mean we simply can’t justify the cost of a printed newsletter any more – not if it’s at the expense of our core mission to provide information and analysis in the most comprehensive way possible.

This happens at a time for HIV that is both immensely hopeful and fraught with danger. Globally, the most recent UNAIDS report reveals that, in overall terms, we may have turned the corner on HIV: both the number of people living with HIV and the number acquiring HIV every year are significantly declining, especially in the African countries with the great ‘hyperepidemics’.

But at the same time, crucial groups of people are being left behind: HIV prevalence is still rising or failing to fall in many countries of the world, both rich and poor, in groups such as people who inject drugs, sex workers, transgender women and men who have sex with men. The danger is that, as HIV is increasingly confined to these populations, the stigma, discrimination and brutality that they face will be intensified.

Prominent voices in the HIV field, ranging from top researchers to Bono, have been talking about the “beginning of the end of AIDS” for the last year. Certainly there is much hope around, and in this final issue we’ve chosen to feature some of it, from Progress towards an HIV cure to new discoveries in vaccines (The monkeys' tale) to continued rises in life expectancy for people with HIV, now extending into poorer countries (How much longer have I got?). But these will require continued extraordinary commitments, both to research and to strengthening health systems and maintaining the ones that work – including the UK’s National Health Service, the subject of a challenging reorganisation that we also cover in this issue (All change).

The biggest challenge in HIV now, though, has less to do with health and more to do with human rights. It always was, of course, but now we actually have the tools to end HIV it becomes much clearer that, if we are to do so, we simply must campaign to ensure equal access to the groups with the highest HIV prevalence. It’s natural justice to do so but also it makes public health sense: otherwise we – and I write as a gay man – will be like the ‘reservoir cells’ in the body politic, always threatening to become the wellsprings of a resurgent epidemic.

Well, I write this from the AIDS Impact conference, one of the few that has always regarded social disadvantage, psychology and mental health as being key to ending HIV, because people who are excluded and terrorised can’t access treatment and can’t keep themselves safe. For the first time in years, this normally underfunded conference received significant support from pharmaceutical companies. Drug companies don’t give money out of sympathy: they give it to initiatives they think will work, and they have realised that extending our knowledge of the social science of HIV is going to be crucial to ending the epidemic – and that includes finding out how best to involve communities in gathering and using that knowledge.

Knowledge is power. NAM’s mission is to share knowledge, locally and globally. And as long as we can, we will continue to do so.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.