There is good reason to be optimistic about eliminating HIV/AIDS, says an editorial in New Scientist.
The strongest hope lies in a potential "cure" based on gene therapy, it says. US company Sangamo Biosciences is developing a gene therapy to emulate the effect of a bone marrow transplant that "vanquished" the virus in an HIV patient. If it works, patients could be cured with a single shot of gene therapy instead of a lifetime of antiretroviral therapy (ART), says the editorial.
And ARTs are themselves a reason for optimism, it adds. According to the WHO, existing ARTs could eliminate HIV in Africa by 2050 — if accompanied by regular testing and quick treatments. Such a long-term programme would be expensive but at US$85 billion, the cost is a fraction of the US$700 billion recently spent to bail out US banks.
And ART prices could fall. GlaxoSmithKline has said it will offer poor countries all its medicines at 25 per cent less than the typical price in the developed world.
With enough time and money, the editorial concludes we can finally start to rid the world of HIV/AIDS.