Hiroshi Nishiura writes:

Today, there are many communicable diseases all over the world and they kill many adults. About 40% of global death in all ages are due to communicable diseases and 99% of these diseases occur in developing countries. An especially grave menace to human life is HIV which is mostly transmitted by sexual behavior (and also due to infection by blood transfusion from carriers of the HIV virus). Another threat is AIDS with tuberculosis. AIDS, which occurs in the HIV infected body, and tuberculosis together kill a lot of people.

HIV can be avoided by using condoms because it's one of the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But although it can be thought that STDs can be treated effectively and cheaply (between US$0.50 and US$4 per person), there are big problems in the supply and accessibility of services compounded by fear of stigma on the part of patients and the attitude of some service providers. Both don't notice the importance of preventive medicine. Then HIV and AIDS continue to spread rapidly and relentlessly. WHO estimates there are over 13 million who are carriers all over the world. About 6000 people are becoming infected each day. To make matters worse, in parts of Africa and Asia the virus is advancing rapidly (the virus occasionally has a mutation and gets stronger). So, for now, it seems almost impossible to make a vaccine that will stop HIV infections.

And meanwhile the lethal relationship of tuberculosis with HIV is making the death toll many times worse. It is estimated that tuberculosis and AIDS together will kill more people than the entire populations of the cities of Singapore, Beijing, Yokohama and Tokyo combined during the next 10 years in Asia. To prevent HIV infection, first of all it is necessary to teach the cause of infection, the importance of prevention and how terrible it is. (This also can be said for almost any sexual transmitted disease.) Simply it is sufficient to teach the efficiency of using condoms. It is possible for Japanese medical professionals to do the teaching of health and how to use condoms. If the teaching is successful, then of course the stigma will wear off. Second, Japan can save carriers of the virus by helping to invent a vaccine to work against HIV. Today there is no perfection to cure HIV and AIDS. (Genetic and chromosomal therapy are also developing, but these are not yet perfected.) And tuberculosis can be avoided by quarantine of patients and group vaccination. And as volunteers and/or business people, Japanese can buy the vaccine for people in the developing world and dispatch rescue parties to sites of illness.

Interests in HIV/AIDS are building up all over the world. Maybe this is due to the threat of AIDS, difficulties in prevention, discrimination, exploding number of carriers, and so on. And the biggest reason why those people are interested in HIV/AIDS is that there is a lack of information on these diseases. People actually want to know how someone gets infected and how to prevent this. The biggest threat, I think, is to discriminate against the carriers. It is possible for Japanese to develop more knowledge in detail and help carriers by means of new treatments. Why not? And the day will come soon when treatment of these diseases will be accomplished perfectly. I hope I'll engage in research on the development of genetic therapy, especially on encephalitis induced by HIV. This is my dream.

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