Improvement in the global prevalence of HIV infection suggests the world has seized an upper hand in the war on HIV and AIDS.
Worldwide there were 2.7 million new cases of HIV infection in 2010, according to UNAIDS. That’s down from 3.2 million a decade earlier. In Massachusetts new infections have decreased by 54 percent since 1999.
But declaring victory is premature. Infection rates for Americans between the ages of 13 and 30 are actually increasing. Overall — despite the 10-year downward trend globally and in Massachusetts — 56,000 Americans become infected with HIV each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 14,000 Americans with AIDS die each year.
A quarter century of medical science has given us important tools: antiretroviral drugs have helped wrestle HIV from a routinely terminal diagnosis to a chronic, treatable condition. The transmission rate from mother to child has been virtually eliminated. The approval of the preventive drug Truvada by the FDA offers the latest signs of hope and promise for further curbing the trend of infection.
One weapon that is just important today as it was at the advent of this epidemic: diet and nutrition.