AVAC ED Mitchell Warren On Science, Stigma and the Possibility of Ending AIDS

September 9, 2014

At the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne this July, AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren spoke with Fred Schaich of the International Foundation for Alternative Research in AIDS (IFARA) about the new global call—issued by UNAIDS—to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

In the conversation, Warren discussed how research has identified additional biomedical strategies that can have a major impact on the epidemic—and that the major short-term challenge is getting better at delivery, and understanding that this means getting better at tackling stigma, discrimination and other factors that hamper service delivery. This goes for antiretroviral treatment, condoms, harm reduction and voluntary medical male circumcision, as well as newer interventions such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Warren also focused on the critical importance of continued investments in vaccine and cure research.

The elegance of the science is remarkable, but even if everything happened exactly right scientifically, if we don’t deal with that fundamental reality of stigma, discrimination, criminalization, we will never end the epidemic. And that’s what the challenge is.

No matter how many pills we deliver for prevention or treatment — No matter how many circumcisions — No matter how many condoms — If we continue to see laws that criminalize sexuality — If we continue to see laws that criminalize drug use and sex work, we will never end the epidemic. Because no biomedical intervention can overcome those areas.

Watch the full conversation now.