Notes on the 16th International AIDS conference that we've returned to in Toronto:
The news about AIDS is always alarmist. But, it seems likely that we'll have eliminated AIDS from the planet in the next 50 years.
There is no cure for HIV and no vaccine against it. However, the use of anti-retroviral drugs can seriously diminish the virus. I recently read in Newsweek about an HIV+ woman who is having a baby. The father does not have the virus, and there is only a 1% chance that the baby will be HIV+. This would have been impossible ten years ago.
So, while there is no cure, the virus seems to be becoming a chronic ailment, but not necessarily a fatal one. This surely counts as one of the greatest accomplishments of medical science in world history. In a secular society, doctors can become a sort of priestly class, and this can lead to the sort of hubris and arrogance that writers like Foucault warned about. On the other hand, if medical science had done nothing more than cure polio, it would be worth it.
There will not likely be a cure, but there will likely be an anti-virus pill or cream to prevent transmission. This along with aggressive anti-retroviral drugs will gradually slow the rate of new cases down to nothing. Even in Africa. Again, I think it will take at least four or five decades, but I do believe that it will happen and that the news stories that come out every few years about 'superAIDS' etc. are nonsense.
One day we will remember the people who wiped out this disease the way we remember Jonas Salk.
One day we will remember people like Jessie Helms the way we remember those poor misguided souls who burned incense to ward off the plague.