Advances and Challenges in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Expert highlights progress in HIV/AIDS treatment, making it a chronic, manageable condition. Challenges include unequal access. Mexico aims for 90-90-90 targets by 2025, eyeing virus elimination by 2030. On World AIDS Day, he emphasizes testing and prevention.

Advances and Challenges in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS
UNAM expert envisions a world without HIV/AIDS, urging collective efforts to meet 90-90-90 targets by 2025. Image by Darwin Laganzon from Pixabay

On the 42nd anniversary of the discovery of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the landscape of HIV/AIDS has evolved significantly. Roberto Vázquez Campuzano, an esteemed academic at the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology of the UNAM School of Medicine, sheds light on the current state of the epidemic and the progress made in its management.

Vázquez Campuzano emphasizes a paradigm shift in the approach to HIV/AIDS, where access to antiretroviral treatment has transformed the disease from a once-debilitating condition into a manageable chronic illness. Those receiving treatment now experience a life expectancy comparable to uninfected individuals. Notably, immunodeficiency is no longer a decisive factor in the progression of the disease, with a functional cure achieved through disciplined medication consumption.

While the strides in treatment are commendable, Vázquez Campuzano highlights a critical challenge—unequal access to antiretroviral therapy. Approximately 80-85% coverage in Mexico, encompassing services such as IMSS, ISSSTE, PEMEX, SEDENA, leaves a significant portion without access, predominantly in rural areas. The consequence is evident in the development of AIDS among this underserved minority.

Epidemiological Landscape in Mexico

With nearly 357,000 reported cases of HIV in Mexico, the prevalence stands at 0.3%, primarily concentrated in specific populations like men who have sex with men and intravenous drug users. Vázquez Campuzano attributes the relatively low prevalence to the concerted efforts of civil organizations, which have played a pivotal role in detection campaigns and disseminating crucial information.

The expert introduces the 90-90-90 Strategy initiated by UNAIDS, aiming for 90% of infected individuals worldwide to know their status, 90% to be under antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of those to achieve undetectable viral loads by 2025. While some countries have reached 95-95-95, Mexico stands at 80% across the board, indicating the need for intensified efforts.

Despite facing challenges, Vázquez Campuzano remains optimistic, envisioning a future where achieving the 90-90-90 targets by 2030 could lead to the elimination of virus transmission. This ambitious goal not only promises a normal life for those living with HIV but also holds the prospect of global eradication by 2050.

As World AIDS Day is commemorated on December 1, Vázquez Campuzano urges the public to prioritize understanding transmission methods, maintain a vigilant approach to overall health, and adhere to hygiene measures as effective prevention. Encouraging testing, he underscores its importance, stating that even the slightest doubt warrants a test, with a remarkable 99% accuracy.

In the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS, advancements in treatment and prevention strategies offer hope. While acknowledging the progress made, the call to action is clear—universal access to antiretroviral therapy, intensified awareness campaigns, and a collective commitment to the 90-90-90 targets can pave the way toward a future free from the burden of HIV/AIDS.