Great news reported by the NY Times yesterday – China, by distributing antiretroviral medications, to nearly 63% of those who need them, has cut their AIDS mortality by about two-thirds. Not only have they done a great job of drug distribution, but as I wrote in an article in 2006 for my alma mater’s magazine (p. 9), they actually did a noteworthy job of forming partnerships between hospitals, government agencies, and educators. This full-scale effort is important to note because it’s not just drug distribution – though that is undeniably, emphatically essential, particularly in light of recent studies showing that ARVs drop viral loads to such a low level that they are nearly undetectable and prevent transmission from HIV+ to HIV- partners – but it’s a concerted effort on all fronts, reaching at-risk populations through educators, healthcare providers, and even as governments.
When I wrote my article in 2006, we used figures that had been reported from 1999 – 2003, and the projected HIV+ population of China (at its infection rate increase of 30% a year in 1999) if it went unchecked, with no interventions of any kinds, was in the millions. Instead, since implementing these policies, it has held steady. This just goes to show how important these kinds of interventions are, and how effective they can be - literally saving millions of people from infection. Just imagine Well done, China.