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Four Ways to Beat HIV/AIDS

In 2016 alone, one million people died from HIV-related causes, while 1.8 million more became infected. Contrary to popular myth, the world has not turned the corner on AIDS – and has little chance of doing so without significant further progress on increasing the availability of low-cost treatments.

PITTSBURGH – In the fight against HIV/AIDS, some stories illuminate the long road to global eradication more than others. In 2009, I heard one such story in Tanzania.

I was visiting a remote village when I spoke to a woman who knew that she was HIV-positive. She told me that the established health guidelines at the time indicated that she could not receive treatment until her count of CD4 T-helper cells, a type of white blood cell used by the immune system, had dropped below a certain threshold.

After walking several miles to get her count checked, she arrived at the clinic only to find its testing machine broken. The machine was still inoperative the second time she made the long journey. Only months later, after her third trip to the clinic on foot, did she receive her cell count: her levels were far below the necessary threshold. Her treatment should have begun months before.