AIDS beaten in Australia, scientists report

Australia's top scientists declared "the end of AIDS" as a public health issue, the broadcaster ABC reported Sunday.

Researchers said the number of Australians being diagnosed with AIDS each year is now so small that the age of the fatal syndrome was over.

Scientists from several AIDS research groups told the ABC the number of AIDS deaths had fallen from a peak in the early 1990s of about 1,000 a year to practically zero.

"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," said Professor Andrew Grulich, head of the HIV Epidemiology and Prevention Programme at the Kirby Institute, part of the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

The ABC reported that although the fight against HIV is still ongoing, Professor Grulich said the change to the incidence of AIDS had been "nothing short of miraculous."

"It's pretty much dealt with as a public health issue. The only cases we see of AIDS these days are people undiagnosed with HIV, and so they can't be treated," Grulich said.

Professor Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute, part of the University of Melbourne, told the ABC anti-retroviral medications had been game-changers, allowing someone with HIV to live a long and healthy life.

"I've actually seen a dramatic transformation of HIV from a universal death sentence to now a chronic, manageable disease," Lewin said.

Don Baxter, international officer for the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations, told the ABC it was vital to support nations who had not yet beaten the AIDS epidemic.

"We are seeing very few countries actually reducing that rate of infection at this stage, and we don't see the political will of those governments as we've had in Australia," Baxter said.

Last update: Sun, 10/07/2016 - 12:51

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