World AIDS Day is being observed today to encourage greater public awareness about the disease some 30 years after the pandemic began.
Mark Ishaug, the incoming president and CEO of AIDS United, says tremendous gains have been made on the scientific front to battle the illness.
While acknowledging the steps that have been taken in reigning in the spread of HIV/AIDS, Ishaug says much work remains in both the laboratory and the public arena.
He says one of the most serious misconceptions about the disease in the U.S. is that AIDS is a chronic, manageable illness that has just "gone away." Ishaug confirms people are living longer with the disease but drugs are still not able to prevent HIV/AIDS transmission.
According to Ishaug, one of the fastest growing regions of the U.S. for the spread of HIV/AIDS is in the South.
He points to poverty and homelessness as two of the key reasons for the rise in cases of the disease.
Ishaug adds that stigma and discrimination among those living with HIV/AIDS also must be addressed in order to make even greater strides toward both treatments for the illness and an eventual cure.