Battling HIV/AIDS

The Washington Post‘s Colum Lynch relays both the good news about the UN’s work combatting AIDS —

About 3 million people infected with the AIDS virus in the developing world received life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs last year, a 42 percent increase over 2006 in the number with access to the medicines, a U.N. report said Monday.

— and the bad news of the daunting hurdles that remain.

But U.N. officials cautioned that 70 percent of AIDS victims still have no access to the medicines and that the number of newly infected people worldwide in 2007 was still 2.5 times the number receiving treatment. HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa.

This story of progress and remaining challenges is anything but a contradiction. HIV/AIDS is unprecedented as a modern epidemic, and even as the world mounts an increasingly robust response to this devastating disease, the scope of the problem continues to expand, setting the stage for what will remain a prolonged battle to prevent infection and to help the millions already living with HIV/AIDS. The UN will discuss the next steps in this battle tomorrow, when world leaders and health officials meet to discuss both AIDS and the related threat posed by tuberculosis.