Jul. 17 2014

The history of public health is full of aspirational campaigns. But do statements like “the end of AIDS” help or hurt? Do they motivate action, or do they risk incredulity, leading to inaction? In a new paper published in Science, "End of AIDS: Hype versus Hope," ICAP’s Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, director, Katherine Harripersaud, MPH, and Dr. Ronald Bayer, Mailman School professor of Sociomedical Sciences, consider these questions.

There are reasons to be optimistic about the global HIV epidemic—9.7 million people with HIV have gained access to treatment since 2001, ART is being initiated earlier, and new pediatric infections are rare in several countries. The authors caution, however, that, “implying imminent success may be perceived as minimizing the challenges that remain, resulting in the withdrawal of resources and a consequent resurgence of the presumed “controlled” disease.”

Despite the risk of donor fatigue and loss of momentum in the face of recognized challenges, the authors assert that substantial advances can be made in the AIDS epidemic through concerted effort and sustained commitment. “Envisioning a world without epidemic AIDS is a deeply profound concept. Let this be the rallying cry.”

The paper is part of a special issue on the state of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

About Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health

Founded in 1922, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health pursues an agenda of research, education, and service to address the critical and complex public health issues affecting New Yorkers, the nation and the world. The Mailman School is the third largest recipient of NIH grants among schools of public health. Its over 450 multi-disciplinary faculty members work in more than 100 countries around the world, addressing such issues as preventing infectious and chronic diseases, environmental health, maternal and child health, health policy, climate change & healthand public health preparedness. It is a leader in public health education with over 1,300 graduate students from more than 40 nations pursuing a variety of master’s and doctoral degree programs. The Mailman School is also home to numerous world-renowned research centers including ICAP (formerly the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs) and the Center for Infection and Immunity. For more information, please visit www.mailman.columbia.edu.