The opening session of the 13th International AIDS Impact Conference in Cape Town (13-15 November 2017) laid bare the challenges ahead for the global HIV community. On the one hand, the campaign to scale up HIV treatment has been successful and, according to UNAIDS South African country director Mbulawa Mugabe, 18 million people are accessing the drugs. We are well on our way to meeting the agreed 90-90-90 treatment targets.
On the other hand, new HIV infections are unacceptably high, particularly among adolescents in eastern and southern Africa. There are two thousand new HIV infections a week among South African girls and young women: two thousand reasons to do things better.
Delegates of ICASA had an opportunity today to seek an answer to the big question: when will the clever scientists discover a cure for AIDS and an HIV vaccine? I found myself brave enough today to engage with the “real scientists”. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that I am part of the so-called lay public. But with me, in the same boat, were most of the policy makers in the room, trying their best to keep up with incomprehensible jargon, graphs and randomised control trials.