Monday, 11 July 2016

AIDS ends as public health issue in Australia - scientists

Donna Short, The Australian 23/08/1985

A really annoying thing about having HIV, particularly in Australia, is that many people automatically think you have AIDS. "How long have you had AIDS?" is a common question. "I don't have AIDS, I have HIV" is the answer. It even came up with my psycho nephew who accused us of threatening him with "AIDS" - in court the denial of saying such a thing was that I'd have used the word "HIV" if that had at all happened. You can't catch AIDS. You can catch the HIV virus.

The simple fact is that today AIDS is a curable condition. AIDS is when your immune system has been so ravaged by the HIV virus that opportunistic AIDS related infections take hold. Infections that normal people are regularly exposed to but aren't affected with a healthy immune system. With today's HIV medication the immune system recovers and therefore the AIDS is cured. That isn't a cure for the HIV virus, but a cure for the AIDS condition. 

For example, I've been HIV+ since 2008, and although there's been a lot of complications and it hasn't been a smooth ride in my particular circumstance, I've at no time had the AIDS condition.

With encouragements and the prevalence of HIV+ people on HIV medications in Australia, the AIDS condition here now is very rare. The only way you can get AIDS is without treatment, hence the importance of diagnosis. Get tested regularly.

So rare that scientist are now declaring the AIDS condition is now over as a public health issue in Australia. What an amazing effort and result by all party's involved.
The announcement makes Australia one of few countries where the AIDS epidemic has been declared officially over. 

Researchers from the Kirby and Peter Doherty institutes and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations made the announcement, as the number of AIDS diagnoses per year has now fallen so low. 

Since the rise to prominence of antiretroviral drugs in the 1990s, the number of those living with HIV whose condition progresses to AIDS, has fallen dramatically. 

At the height of the AIDS epidemic, around 1,000 Australians died a year of AIDS-related illness. 

The number of people diagnosed with the condition in Australia now has fallen so low that it is no longer recorded, says Professor Andrew Grulich, head of the HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Program at the Kirby Institute. 

“These days we don’t even monitor it, it’s a transitory thing for most people; people have AIDS, then they go on treatment and they don’t have AIDS anymore,” he said. 

He said the falling number of diagnoses each year was “nothing short of miraculous”. 

“It’s pretty much dealt with as a public health issue,” he added. 

“The only cases we see of AIDS these days are people undiagnosed with HIV and so they can’t be treated.” Pink News