Sydney nearly eliminated HIV transmission in the world first

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Health officials have “virtually” eliminated HIV transmission in parts of Sydney that were once the epicenter of the Australian AIDS epidemic, raising hopes of conquering a disease that has killed more than 40 million people.

HIV diagnoses in inner Sydney fell by 88 per cent from the 2008-2012 average to just 11 cases last year, a drop on a scale not previously recorded in the former AIDS epicenter.

The findings add to the evidence that current prevention strategies, including pre-exposure testing and medications, are highly effective when implemented properly.

“Rapid progress toward ending AIDS is possible. If trends continue, many countries in many global regions will reach [UN] The goal is to reduce HIV infection by 90 percent by 2030.

While rates fell in New South Wales and Australia in general, the drop was “extraordinary” in central Sydney, where a large proportion of MSM reside, said Andrew Grolich, professor of HIV epidemiology at the Kirby Institute in the country.

Darrell O’Donnell, chief executive of the NSW-based HIV advocacy group Health Equity Matters, said the prospect of eliminating transmission was “staggering” for anyone who had lived through the “horror years” of the AIDS crisis.

“What we’re beginning to realize in Australia is that we can end this pandemic,” he said.

Grulich said the reduction was achieved because of a community-focused approach that included high rates of testing, prompt treatment for those who tested positive, and increased use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, a drug regimen that prevented the risk of contracting the virus by 99 percent.

“People should act accordingly [this evidence],” He said.

HIV treatment enables people living with the virus to live long, healthy lives. But only a few cases of complete cure, or eradication of HIV, have been documented in patients, and no vaccine is available yet.

Some countries in the world, such as Zimbabwe, Nepal, Lesotho, Rwanda, Eritrea and Malawi, have achieved a decrease of more than 70 percent, while a decrease of about half has been documented in the cities of the Netherlands, England, Singapore and the United States, such as New York and San Francisco.

But Grulich, who led the study and warned health officials not to be complacent, said no site reported a decline as large as that of inner city Sydney.

“Without a vaccine and treatment, eradicating HIV is impossible… One thing people should not be thinking when reading this data is: ‘We can pack our bags and go home.’ That is not the case at all,” he urged to “continue investing” in testing and treatment.

Meg Doherty, the WHO’s chief of HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases programs, noted that the robust public health program was backed by “a government that is putting money behind it”.

O’Donnell, who was head of the New South Wales government’s HIV unit 20 years ago, said progress in the country dates back to the 1980s, when Australian politicians took a non-ideological approach to the pandemic and chose to work closely with the LGBT community, drug users and sex workers to get through the crisis.

“Ending AIDS will not happen all at once, all in one fell swoop,” said Doherty of the WHO. “It will be Sydney, other regions, and then slowly over time we will see that globally until we get a vaccine.”

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