Science

The AIDS Revolution: Chilling surveillance of the epidemic – Science et Avenir

Globally, between 34 and 44 million people are currently infected with HIV, and half of them do not have access to treatment, despite the 90/90/90 policy implemented by UNAIDS in 2014 (this United Nations program aimed to ensure access to testing and treatment). for 90% of people living with HIV by 2020). In addition, HIV infection continues to rise. What are the reasons for these failures in the fight against HIV/AIDS?

“We must not forget the phenomenal work that has already been done”

Documentary AIDS revolution intends to provide some answers by drawing up a frightening account of the political and social situation caused by disease, inequity in access to health care, discrimination and stigmatization of minorities and, above all, the real lack of political will that contribute to the spread of the virus. Artists, politicians, researchers, eyewitnesses describe this health care revolution that we mistakenly believe is over. The documentary “highlights the incredible commitment of all these people,” Frédéric Chaudier, director of the film, tells Science et Avenir, “We must not forget the phenomenal work already done.”

Discovered in 1983, the HIV virus continues to spread around the world and mobilize research. Able to silently infect certain immune cells (CD4+ lymphocytes) for about ten years, the consequences of this infection are very serious and very often fatal if left untreated. People with HIV eventually declare themselves AIDS (which stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) due to immune system failure, making them susceptible to any microbe present in the environment.

Today there is a treatment that allows you to live with the disease and can make any seropositive person non-infectious if treated on a regular basis. But who are the countries and people who can benefit from such treatment while others fall into desolation and oblivion?

In South Africa, girls between the ages of 14 and 25 are the most affected by HIV.

As the documentary shows, the fight against HIV and AIDS is far from uniform around the world. Supply issues, stock shortages, among others in sub-Saharan Africa, are alarming factors for resurgence or resistance to the virus. In this country, where the incidence of rape, for example, among minors, is a significant phenomenon, there is still a sense of shame among HIV-positive people, and the fight to get this disease accepted is far from over.

In Russia, the eradication of the virus by eliminating infected people

In Russia, the masculine and brutal management of power leads to a rapid increase in HIV cases. HIV circulates in particular among drug users, the LGBTQIA+ community and among sex workers: populations that are stigmatized and pressured because of what they do and who, for fear of being noticed, do not get tested or difficult to test, contributing to the spread of the epidemic. “The Russian state did not want and still does not want to create an image of supportive associations and a social problem that it really wants to fight,” says Frédéric Chaudier. “There is no more funding from NGOs, and they are under an openly homophobic legislative screed (see the latest laws adopted in the Duma), which goes so far as to severely punish them for distributing preventive messages or literature, equating this literature with pedophilia.”

In China, the authorities, considering some poor provinces useless or unproductive, had to find a function for them: it would be a blood trade.

7 euros for a bag of blood: This is the equivalent of a month’s salary in the poor provinces of Henan, making the blood trade a means of survival. trade flourished, which quickly spread to neighboring regions, unfortunately often tainted with blood. A terrible situation that illustrates the poverty of the Henan region, which has 80 million inhabitants. The images show us the “abandonment of the population” by the government “which has closed the lid”, a situation at the peak of modern cynicism, which we learn from the documentary.

Fighting the pharmaceutical lobby and political “disinterest”

For Roni Brauman, GP, former president of Médecins Sans Frontière (MSF), speaking in the documentary, the pharmaceutical lobby “is both a solution and a problem.” Thanks to the struggle, the price of first-line generics has dropped significantly, but “we must be able to produce and distribute the most effective drugs (third and fourth line) in all countries of the world in order to be able to claim to eradicate the virus,” said Mark Weinberg, virologist and pioneer in the fight against HIV/AIDS, who died in 2017. The director cannot ignore the observation that “the pharmaceutical industry also creates obstacles”, illustrating “the problem of political will and rebalancing between governments and laboratories”.

This film highlights the importance of the preventive work that was done on this virus and this disease in the early decades of the epidemic and the gradual neglect in recent years. This preventive work should continue to raise awareness for both the new and the previous generation. The fight against HIV/AIDS is “a fight against oblivion and indifference, when people’s voices are muffled, and experts are not heard and are not heeded, as it should be on the part of public authorities. Everyone is part of the whole and contributes to the common cause.” it,” concludes the director.

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