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AIDS research getting closer to a cure – or is it?

Is HIV/Aids research working? are we getting closer to a cure?It’s been over 30 years since Aids was discovered but there hasn’t been a cure for the once dreaded disease that killed people before advanced medication was developed to control the disease. But according to recent reports 2016 has seen Aids research advance with many believing a cure is imminent. Unlike a few years back when being HIV positive was seen as a death sentence, today things have changed as there are medications to control the disease as well as lifestyles that can be followed to manage the disease.

According to a report by the recently launched the Huffington Post South Africa, 2016 has indeed been a banner year for HIV research worldwide. According to the article, HIV/Aids affects 37 million people across the world. https://goo.gl/VmQvNX

There may not yet be a cure for HIV Aids but the global response towards the disease is shifting towards finding the cure. South Africa is one of the countries that has embarked on a ground-breaking HIV vaccine trial phase. Source: https://goo.gl/J8WhTG

The global community is certainly working as one in sending the message out there as well as sharing ideas about how to better control the situation. Fewer people died from HIV in 2015 than in the previous 20 years and new infections are at their lowest point since 1991.

But while inroads have been made with advanced research and people living longer with HIV/Aids, the stigma remains real amongst many people. Health commentators have blamed the stigmatization of the Aids disease to ignorance and lack of information. Dr Ernest Moeti, from Centurion says he’s been dealing with HIV/Aids matters for a long time and believes that the stigma is a result of misinformation and ignorance. “We just celebrated 28 years since the first World Aids day and though there have been serious advances in HIV/Aids research and alternative medication, there’s still a lot of ignorance and I don’t think enough is being done to send out relevant information,” he said. “Misinformation makes people still believe that being HIV positive was a death sentence. You go to rural communities and townships and the moment someone looks sickly it’s immediately thought to be Aids and this puts shame on the person. We often say that HIV doesn’t discriminate, but it certainly does. Social inequality makes some far more at risk for HIV than others. A person living in Alexander township and unemployed is more at risk than their suburban counterpart,” he said.

Research has found that people who live in poverty, are homeless and unemployed were more vulnerable to the disease since they could be taken advantage of. “We had the “blesser” phenomenon not so long ago where elderly men took advantage of vulnerable and certainly needy young girls for sex. In that kind of set up the so called “blesser” or sugar daddy calls the shots and will most usually sleep with a girl without a condom and wake up the following day to give her money for the pregnancy prevention pill, but what about sexually transmitted diseases?” asked Dr Moeti.

Other factors that lead to the spread of the disease are marginalization, poor education and a lack of quality health care especially in disadvantaged areas. Also, the state of the nation also plays a role in alleviating or worsening the spread of the disease. In a South Africa that has battled with corruption in government this has meant that the government has failed to implement measures to deal effectively with HIV/Aids.

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