Campaigners are now talking openly of beating the AIDS epidemic

July 24, 2014 4:48 PM

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Campaigners are now talking openly of beating the AIDS epidemic

TARGETS, students of management agree, help achieve goals. The best are demanding but realistic. And that is something those in charge of the fight against AIDS have come to realise. Their latest target, by far their most ambitious, is to end the epidemic by 2030. “End” is an elastic term, since there is no cure for HIV infection, nor is one in sight. But optimists think a combination of the tools available—particularly the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs which now keep around 13m people alive—could be enough to stop the virus spreading. In the parlance of epidemiologists, they believe they can arrive at R0<1. In layman’s terms, that means each infected individual, during the course of his or her lifetime, will pass the infection on to less than one person on average.

That would be a stunning achievement. HIV was unknown to science a mere 33 years ago. A combination of scientific research and political willpower has got the virus on the run. According to calculations by UNAIDS, the United Nations agency created to deal with the disease, 1.5m people died of it las...

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