A mass screening of all those at risk of the AIDS virus could help wipe out the disease in 40 years time
A mass screening of all those at risk of AIDS may successfully wipe out the deadly virus within 40 years, according to a leading researcher.
The plan proposed by Dr Brian Williams of the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis will offer billions of people HIV tests once a year. Anti viral drugs will be given to anyone who tests positive.
It has been suggested that the radical move could stop the transmission of the virus within just five years, and 2050 will see the end of the global AIDS epidemic.
South Africa – the country with the world’s highest HIV and AIDS count – will be first to take part in the trial later this year. Other highly affected areas will quickly follow suit.
‘Our immediate best hope is to use anti retroviral drugs to not only save lives but to reduce transmissions of HIV,’ says Dr Williams.
‘I believe that if we used antiretroviral drugs we could effectively stop transmission of HIV within five years.’
The AIDS virus has infected an estimated 33 million people and killed 25 million. By following this plan, it is believed that the disease will die with the current generation of people living with HIV – the virus that causes AIDS.
The antiretroviral drugs work by lowering the concentration of HIV in the blood and making carriers less infectious.
Costs for South Africa alone have been estimated at £2 billion, although Dr Williams is confident that reductions in healthcare will more than make up for this. Not to mention the number of lives that will be saved.
‘The epidemic of HIV is really one of the worst plagues of human history,’ he says. ‘I hope we can get to the starting line in one to two years, and get complete coverage of patients in five years.’