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World AIDS Day: HIV Pandemic Surging

Despite Advances, Record Numbers Dying of AIDS

Forward, Step by Step

It's easy to get discouraged by the huge numbers needed to describe the global AIDS situation. It's discouraging that AIDS appears ready to boil over in populous places such as Pakistan and Indonesia. It's scary to think about what might happen if AIDS expands its foothold in China. And it's horrible to count the number of AIDS deaths that cannot be avoided in the coming years.

Yet progress is being made, even if it's of the one-step-forward variety.

Thanks to a huge five-year effort, 1 million of the world's 6 million desperately ill people now get lifesaving treatments. True, the World Health Organization's plan to treat 3 million people by 2005 fell 2 million people short. But this year there were 300,000 fewer AIDS deaths than there would have been. And next year the impact should be even greater.

"There should be a dramatic and reassuring reduction in AIDS deaths," De Lay says. "But we are not going to see a reduction in new infections in the next several years."

It's a lofty goal, but De Lay hasn't given up on the U.N.'s goal of seeing the AIDS tide ebb by 2015.

"We have in the next 10 years an opportunity to do this," he says. "But we need more resources. And money is only part of the problem. We need clinics with bigger waiting rooms. We need refrigerators in the laboratories. We need hospitals with running water. This is very basic stuff. If we do this, we may very well see the 'millennium goal' achieved."

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