How Treatment Could End the AIDS Epidemic

Question: If treatment makes people with HIV non-infectious, could widespread treatment of HIV actually end the epidemic?

Paul Bellman:  Well I think that the idea that treatment could potentially be prevention—because if someone is affectively treated they can’t pass on HIV—absolutely is powerfully important at this time where we don’t have a preventative vaccine and we don’t have a cure as actually the best path towards prevention. And Dr. Brian Williams of the World Health Organization who is one of their leading epidemiologists, has done some very careful modeling of the epidemiology of HIV in South Africa, which is incredibly hard-hit and he has calculated that if we could accelerate access to testing and effective treatment that we would dramatically reduce the incidence of new infection in the space of two decades—potentially even end the epidemic. But very early on it would translate into a dramatic reduction in new incidence of, not just HIV but infections that are associated with it like tuberculosis that are transmissible to non-HIV-positive people

Very recently, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel who is Obama’s special advisor on AIDS had a blog in the Huffington Post which came out of the recent World AIDS conference in Vienna. And in this blog he was very critical of an activist who was critical of Obama’s current health plan in terms of budgeting for resources in the developing world. And, you know, so much so that he basically lambasted the activist and then went on to criticize Archbishop Desmond Tutu for similarly criticizing the Obama plan. 

Now, these are really complex issues and certainly Dr. Ezekiel made some good points about how we have to try to make sure that the resources we’re spending are being well spent and I don’t think anyone would argue with that, but on the other hand he made a statement that I think really requires some scrutiny and should be the subject of real discussion and debate, and not just simply accepted.  In this blog he said essentially that we can’t treat our way out of the epidemic and that is contrary to what many public health experts believe like Julio Montaner of Canada and Ronald Stahl of Pittsburgh who is a leading public health epidemiologist and it really is a matter of applying the resources and applying them wisely and correctly.

Recorded August 18, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller

Despite what Obama advisor Ezekiel Emanuel says, we may be able to treat our way out of the epidemic if enough resources were applied wisely and correctly.

Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
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New alternative to Trump's wall would create jobs, renewable energy, and increase border security

A consortium of scientists and engineers have proposed that the U.S. and Mexico build a series of guarded solar, wind, natural gas and desalination facilities along the entirety of the border.

Credit: Purdue University photo/Jorge Castillo Quiñones
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The proposal was recently presented to several U.S. members of Congress.
  • The plan still calls for border security, considering all of the facilities along the border would be guarded and connected by physical barriers.
  • It's undoubtedly an expensive and complicated proposal, but the team argues that border regions are ideal spots for wind and solar energy, and that they could use the jobs and fresh water the energy park would create.
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Climate change melts Mount Everest's ice, exposing dead bodies of past climbers

Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Surprising Science
  • Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
  • Recent glacial melting, caused by global warming, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
  • While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.

The bodies that remain in view are often used as waypoints for the living. Some of them are well-known markers that have earned nicknames.

For instance, the image above is of "Green Boots," the unidentified corpse named for its neon footwear. Widely believed to be the body of Tsewang Paljor, the remains are well known as a guide point for passing mountaineers. Perhaps it is too well known, as the climber David Sharp died next to Green Boots while dozens of people walked past him- many presuming he was the famous corpse.

A large area below the summit has earned the discordant nickname "rainbow valley" for being filled with the bright and colorfully dressed corpses of maintainers who never made it back down. The sight of a frozen hand or foot sticking out of the snow is so common that Tshering Pandey Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association claimed: "most climbers are mentally prepared to come across such a sight."

Other bodies are famous for not having been found yet. Sandy Irvine, the partner of George Mallory, may have been one of the first two people to reach the summit of Everest a full thirty years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did it. Since they never made it back down, nobody knows just how close to the top they made it.

Mallory's frozen body was found by chance in the nineties without the Kodak cameras he brought up to record the climb with. It has been speculated that Irvine might have them and Kodak says they could still develop the film if the cameras turn up. Circumstantial evidence suggests that they died on the way back down from the summit, Mallory had his goggles off and a photo of his wife he said he'd put at the peak wasn't in his coat. If Irving is found with that camera, history books might need rewriting.

As Everest's glaciers melt its morbid history comes into clearer view. Will the melting cause old bodies to become new landmarks? Will Sandy Irvine be found? Only time will tell.

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