Between science and public health programs, HIV is having a shit 2015, at least in the United Staes.
First, researchers at George Washington University reported D.C.’s needle-exchange program was showing definite benefits. As recently as 2007, Congress prohibited the District from using federal funds to operate such a program, but in the first two years the ban was removed (2008-2010), an estimated 120 people were prevented from contracting an infection via contaminated needles. Washington City Paper reports that policy saved D.C. taxpayers a burden of roughly $44 million that would’ve been spent treating those infections through public health programs.
Even better news at NBC: Men who took a daily pill to prevent contracting HIV not only stayed clear of infection, but stayed clear for months and even years. The pill — pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP — is being administered by medical provider Kaiser Permanente. The org claims that among the 657 gay and bisexual men in San Francisco who took the drug over a seven-month trial, not a single HIV infection was reported.
HIV infections and death have been on the decline globally, especially in wealthy countries like the United States. While a victory dance or two is nice, remember that in countries with fewer resources — Zimbabwe for one — the infection rate has not slowed at a comparable level, and could actually cause the epidemic to rebound if we aren’t careful.