THIS article appeared in WHO Features, No. 163, November 1991, in the form of an interview with Dr. Merson in connection with World AIDS Day, December 1, 1991. We are publishing it as a special article in order to bring to our readers this authoritative summary of the current situation, to emphasize the overwhelming significance of the AIDS pandemic, and to demonstrate the urgent need to fully mobilize world resources in order to combat and conquer this terrible threat to humanity. Dr. Merson, it’s ten years since AIDS was first recognized. What do you see as the most important achievements and the failures in the fight against it? One of the most important achievements is to have learned as much as we have about AIDS. The disease was first recognized in homosexual men in the United States of America in 1981; by 1983 the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, had been isolated; in 1985 an antibody test was available. Since then we have learned that HIV is spread mainly through sexual intercourse; like some other sexually transmitted infections, it can also be transmitted through blood and from an infected woman to her unborn or newborn baby. This knowledge showed us that transmission could be interrupted. We have also learned much about how the virus infects cells and how the body mounts an immune response to this infection, and this has led to the development of over 150 experi-mental drugs and vaccines. That is enormous progress in only ten years.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health