In their fascinating excerpt on the origins of the AIDS epidemic [“…And the World Got the AIDS Epidemic,” Feb. 28], Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin argue that timing played a key role in the initial spread of the virus. They note that without a perfect storm of events between the 1880s and 1920s, HIV may never have made it out of the forests of Cameroon. What those of us who work on the global AIDS response know is that much like then, timing is also key now: decades of innovative research, on-the-ground experience and tenacious advocacy have created many of the treatment and prevention tools we need to turn the tide on HIV. Historically, we are at a pivotal moment, and world leaders now have the opportunity before them to bring the epidemic to its end.
In my home country of Uganda, we have proven that early intervention in the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS is a wise investment. In 2010 alone, over 6,000 infant HIV infections were averted in my country, saving both lives and millions of dollars in lifetime treatment costs. We sincerely hope that funders and other stakeholders will seize this unique moment in time to address the epidemic. One thing that history teaches us is that if a window of opportunity closes, we may never be able to get it back again. Let's not lose this window.
Dr. Elly Katabira
President, International AIDS Society and XIX International AIDS Conference Co-Chair