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U.S. News

After Long Exile, Conference Back in a Changed U.S.

July 23, 2012

As the 19th International AIDS Conference opens in Washington, observers note how vastly different the circumstances are compared to 1990, when the IAC met in San Francisco -- its last visit to America for more than 20 years.

With no treatment for AIDS and an HIV diagnosis equating to a death sentence, the outlook for the disease "was about as bad as it could be," said Dr. Paul Volberding, who chaired that meeting and directs the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) AIDS Research Institute.

"In the late 1980s, things were very grim," said Dr. Diane Havlir, co-chair of this year's IAC and chief of the UCSF Division of HIV/AIDS at San Francisco General Hospital. "We had a new disease, we had no treatment, we didn't understand transmission. It was a disease of great suffering."

"Today, a diagnosis of HIV forever changes your life," Havlir said. "But the prospects for a healthy life are much greater than they were a long time ago."

Indeed, so much progress has been made that experts worry that the public and policymakers no longer take HIV/AIDS as seriously as they once did. Observers do not expect any IAC developments as exciting as the 1990s arrival of antiretroviral drugs; rather, much of the conference will focus on how to get those drugs to more people in need. Still, a pre-conference meeting explored progress toward a cure for AIDS, which would have been unthinkable 20 years ago.

The IAC's 22-year absence from the United States after the 1990 conference was due to the U.S. ban on HIV-positive travelers, which was lifted two years ago.

Back to other news for July 2012

Adapted from:
San Francisco Chronicle
07.20.2012; Erin Allday

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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Please note: Knowledge about HIV changes rapidly. Note the date of this summary's publication, and before treating patients or employing any therapies described in these materials, verify all information independently. If you are a patient, please consult a doctor or other medical professional before acting on any of the information presented in this summary. For a complete listing of our most recent conference coverage, click here.