The End of AIDS:
Far from Over

The tools exist. HIV/AIDS can be treated and contained. But in many communities, social, political and economic obstacles get in the way. There, the epidemic is far from over.

Though vast distances apart, at-risk communities in these three places face surprisingly similar challenges. Access to consistent HIV treatment is often limited, social stigma results in isolation, and the government response is slow.

Reported in partnership with Science


In Russia, the epidemic is growing at a rate of 10 percent per year. It’s one of the few places in the world where the epidemic continues to get dramatically worse.

As many as 30,000 people died from AIDS in Russia in 2017, according Russia's Federal AIDS Center.

Lack of education about HIV, coupled with conservative religious beliefs, stigma against those most at-risk of infection, and a lack of a coordinated, national response all drive Russia’s epidemic.

I know a lot of medical workers who are afraid of HIV patients.

— Tatiana Vinogradova, St. Petersburg AIDS Center

An estimated 1 million Russians are infected with HIV, but only one-third of them are receiving antiretroviral treatment. Those who don’t get treated are much more likely to infect others.

Russia Part 1

Russia Part 2

At the present moment, there are no real attempts to overcome the epidemic.

— Vadim Pokrovsky, head of Federal AIDS Center

Far to go:

Vadim Pokrovsky, the head of Russia's Federal AIDS Center, has said 2 million people will likely contract HIV by 2020 if better prevention and treatment is not put in place. Pokrovsky says that the Russian government’s 2016 budget of about $382 million was only about one-fourth of what was needed to beat back the virus.


While Nigeria represents only 2 percent of the global population, it is home to nearly 25 percent of the babies born with HIV worldwide.

In many countries, mother-to-child HIV transmission has been virtually eliminated. But in Nigeria, since many pregnant women don't know their HIV status, they don't receive treatment and are more likely to infect their babies.

A pioneering project in Nigeria throws “baby showers” for expectant mothers. Between dancing, gift giving and celebrating, the new mothers are quietly screened for HIV.

The coordinator told me that if I don't get treated... my baby will get infected. And I believed it.

— Jennifer Lorgya, mother

More than 15,000 parents have gone through the baby shower program so far.


Far to go:

While the baby shower project has made progress in Nigeria's campaign against HIV, the crisis remains enormous. Some 24,000 Nigerian children died from AIDS-related causes in 2016, and roughly 37,000 were newly infected. More than a quarter of a million children live with the virus.


Florida is home to about 10 percent of all HIV cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Miami has the most new infections of any U.S. city. Fort Lauderdale ranks number two.

Multiple factors make Florida one of the epicenters of HIV in America: a slow statewide response, continued stigma against those living with HIV, and a complex mix of cultures.

People living with HIV face prejudice throughout the U.S., but especially in the South. Research shows this stigma can lead to higher-risk behavior, which can increase the chance of infection.

Why is this problem so deep in the South?... Why is it that the leaders are not fighting for this group of people?

— Natalie Davis-Douglas, member of Let's Talk About It support group

Florida Part 1

Florida Part 2

Critics say the government has been slow to respond to its growing epidemic.

In the absence of needle exchange, in the absence of comprehensive sexual education, in the absence of widespread access to PrEP [HIV prevention drug], this is what happens. You have a city that has no control over the current HIV epidemic.

— Dr. Hansel Tookes operates the only legal needle exchange program in Florida

Far to go:

More HIV infections progress to AIDS in Florida than any other state, partly because people who start treatment don’t stay on antiretroviral medication. 60% of new infections come from people who have been on HIV medication but have now slipped out of care.

View Science magazine's partner coverage of "The End of AIDS: Far From Over" in its June 15 issue.

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Support for this series provided by:

Reported by William Brangham, Jason Kane and Jon Cohen. Photography by Misha Friedman, William Brangham, and Artur Bergart. Design and Development by Megan Crigger, Travis Daub, Brennan Butler and Vanessa Dennis. Edited by Jenny Marder