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HIV/AIDS Pandemic Hits 30-Year Mark With Hope

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba

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Thirty years ago this week, researchers and clinicians were putting the finishing touches on an article intended for the June 5 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.Titled "Pneumocystis Pneumonia -- Los Angeles," the seven-paragraph report was the first dispatch from the front lines of humanity's remarkable war against a previously unknown virus.The war began with a complete lack of good news -- the new disease was almost 100 percent fatal, often within weeks or months. No one knew what caused it or how it was transmitted. No one knew how to prevent it, to treat it, and certainly not how to cure it.Thirty years on, the HIV/AIDS pandemic is still raging, but the news from the front is more and more positive.Infection can be prevented, if people have the will. The virus is increasingly well understood, as is the immune system and the host-pathogen interaction. The disease can be treated, although a cure remains out of reach.Perhaps most important -- while many people still die because of the virus -- HIV is no longer a death sentence.

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