Saturday 1 December 2012

World AIDS Day

Photo by Neil Page. Courtesy of Neil Page Creative.
Perhaps no other disease has been misunderstood, researched or argued over in the past 30 years as much as AIDS. Thankfully, a lot more is known about it than even 10 years ago and the chances of living with AIDS in less pain is greater than ever before.

The Health Protection Agency released figures this week which reveals that rates of HIV patients in the UK has risen to about 96,000, with new diagnoses among gay men reaching an all-time high in 2011 at 3,010. This figure means that 5% of gay men in the UK are HIV+. The figure for London is higher, at 1 in 12 men.

These figures show that we must not get complacent about HIV and AIDS.

At first I though of compiling a brief timeline of the main events in HIV and AIDS research for today’s World AIDS Day, of how doctors and scientists discovered what it was, what it did, how it spread, and how to treat it. But the more I did my research the more confusing the task became. Not least of all were the medical terms that were difficult to understand without being in the medical profession, which I’m not.

Instead, I’m directing you to the Avert website. Over the past year I haven’t come across another history of HIV and AIDS research that treats the subject chronologically rather than retrospectively – only on rare occasions does it mention something happening in, say 1985, if it wasn’t discovered until 2005. I find it easier to follow the development of AIDS research as it unfolds, with no “spoilers”, just as the scientists were detectives  discovering key evidence to help solve the puzzle.

The Avert history of AIDS is the most comprehensive and readable version I have found. I hope you find it informative and useful.

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