For every person put on anti-retroviral drug, two more become HIV-infected. If the present rate of 7,100 new infections continues, the current prevention methods cannot stem the tide of AIDS, according to International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, a consortium working on developing prevention vaccine.

“The only real hope we have of ending this pandemic is through the deployment of effective biomedical tools to block HIV transmission, such as vaccines,” it said in a statement to mark three decades of detection of HIV infection.

“We are pleased to note that the prospects of that happening have never looked better than they do today,” it said.

“After years of painstaking work and no shortage of setbacks, we have in hand today solid proof of concept for every one of the major experimental strategies for preventing HIV. Now, each of those results must be confirmed and improved upon — certainly in the case of vaccines. All this will take time and money and so, inevitably, test the patience of policymaker and advocate alike. But prevention — especially the development of new biomedical tools for that purpose — has to be a global priority. We simply cannot treat our way out of this pandemic,” the statement said.

Pointing out that the story of HIV was not one of loss alone, the IAVI recalled that the initial response to HIV, once marred by denial, prejudice and fear, had largely been transformed by the compassion and advocacy of dedicated people into an unprecedented campaign to treat and prevent AIDS. “That campaign today extends the lives of more than 5 million people worldwide, who cannot afford HIV drugs. In many parts of the world, advocates, front-line care providers and volunteers have crossed cultural barriers to distribute condoms, clean needles and accurate, evidence-based advice about preventing HIV. They have focussed the world's attention on the pandemic and tirelessly raised funds to support the prevention and treatment of this merciless disease.”

“Those funds have also fuelled an explosion of scientific inquiry and innovation. Scientists around the world have picked apart the molecular infrastructure of HIV and harnessed this knowledge to design sophisticated antiretroviral therapies. As a consequence, more HIV drugs exist today than are available for all other viral diseases combined. Science, it appears, is equal to the task of treating AIDS,” the statement said, recounting the past and ongoing initiatives to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS.