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There has been significant progress in the fight against AIDS on a medical front, reported The New York Times, but in order to effectively reduce the number of people with the virus, there needs to be less stigma surrounding at-risk groups and greater access to AIDS healthcare and prevention services.
Medical breakthroughs that the news source noted include "anti-retroviral molecules," which can help prevent patients from contracting the virus, as well as the "Berlin Patient," who became the first person to be cured of the disease. The news source also reported that a study was presented at the International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C., in which two HIV-positive subjects who received bone marrow transplants showed undetectable levels of the virus in their blood after the surgeries.
Outreach and prevention
There are also measures that local governments can take in order to target specific groups who are more likely to contract the virus. An example that the news source cited from the organization UNAIDS is drug users in Asia. While there is no prevalent epidemic in the region, nearly 20 percent of drug users in Cambodia have HIV, and in Thailand and Vietnam, that number increases to 30 to 50 percent and 32 to 58 percent, respectively.
While opioid substitution therapy, in which patients are weaned off of drugs by using regimented medications, proved to be effective in Malaysia throughout the last five years, fewer than 10 percent of Asian drug abusers have access to AIDS prevention measures and anti-retroviral treatments.
Defeating the stigma
The Times noted that another necessary step to effectively combat AIDS, which can be detected with a blood test, is to diminish the stigma tied to at-risk groups such as sex-workers, gays and drug users, and provide adequate outreach programs. Other countries that have experienced an increase in AIDS cases in gay populations, but have minimal resources allocated to preventing and treating the disease, include Pakistan, China, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Pregnant mothers are another under-assisted demographic in terms of AIDS prevention, according to The Times. In East, Southeast and South Asia, only 30 percent of pregnant women are offered HIV tests, while nearly 16 percent of pregnant women with HIV are issued anti-retroviral treatments in order to prevent their children from contracting the virus.
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