At one point in time, it was hard to believe there would be an end in sight for smallpox or yellow fever—and the same is still true for HIV/AIDS. Since it was identified in 1984, AIDS has killed more than 25 million people, while more than 35 million are currently living with HIV.*
For several decades, worldwide public health programs and organizations have grown more united in their efforts to find answers. Scientists search for cures, physicians treat and educate patients, communities initiate public health programs aimed at prevention, and PhD students conduct AIDS-related research as they earn their doctoral degrees in public health. More recently, global leaders—including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon—announced a plan that, if successful, could end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
What would it take to achieve this ambitious goal? The plan calls for areas of focus that include:†
The development of retroviral medications.
An influx of money invested in HIV/AIDS treatment.
Greater access to treatment and medications.
Expanded community-based public health programs that offer HIV testing campaigns.
Is it possible? World leaders believe so. However, the first 5 years—from 2015 to 2020—are critical. World leaders will need to take the steps outlined in the plan to stay on track. Otherwise, if the 5-year goals planned for 2020 are not achieved until 2030 (for example), nearly 3 million additional AIDS-related deaths will occur, and an additional 3 million people will become infected.‡
What can you do to help? Wherever you’re located around the globe, if you’re interested helping battle the AIDS epidemic through a public health career, consider enrolling in a public health degree program where you can earn a PhD in public health or master of public health (MPH). Better yet, choose a public health degree offered by an online university with an international faculty and student population for a truly global learning experience.
Ready to keep communities healthy and safe with a career in public health? Earn your public health degree online at Walden University, an accredited institution offering online degree programs in a flexible, convenient format.
*CNN, “Deadly Diseases: Epidemics Throughout History,” on the Internet at www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/10/health/epidemics-through-history.
†Think Progress, “Global Leaders Say the End of AIDS Epidemic May Be in Sight,” on the Internet at http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/07/14/3680490/unaids-epidemic-end-sight.
‡UNAIDS, Fast Track Ending the AIDS Epidemic by 2030, on the Internet at www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/20140925_Fast_Track_Brochure.pdf.