AIDS: Evolution of an Epidemic
Bruce Walker, MD and Bisola Ojikutu, MD, MPH are passionate about fighting the global AIDS epidemic. Walker focuses on vaccine development in the lab, while Ojikutu works in the clinic and focuses on epidemiology. Complementing their U.S.-based research, each spends several months a year in Durban in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province—a region at the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa and the place with the highest incidence of HIV infection in the world. For Walker and Ojikutu, HIV research and community work go hand in hand. They are involved in myriad programs that deliver health care to infected individuals while also doing research to improve and develop treatments for AIDS. HIV has proved to be a wily opponent with a penchant for evolving resistance to each new drug and for eluding the usual tricks for developing effective vaccines against viruses. The global community engaged in the battle against AIDS has many challenges but also reasons for hope. Current treatments have turned HIV infection from a death sentence into a manageable chronic condition, and new strategies raise the prospect of permanently curbing the epidemic.