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An unidentified woman marches in the TC Gay Pride Parade to raise awareness of the impact of HIV stigma has on people living with HIV and AIDS on June 30, 2013, in Mpls.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic appeared in the early 1980s in the United States, gradually spreading to millions, and killing thousands. The sexually-transmitted virus caused crippling fear for multiple generations into the 21st century.

But now the end could be in sight: a continuation of vigilant health policies could provide a path toward “ending” HIV/AIDS in the next decade, according to a new analysis by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

By pushing for better diagnosis, care, and antiretroviral therapies, the country could turn a corner and start the final chapter of AIDS in America by the year 2025, according to the paper in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Though difficult to execute, countries such as Sweden have already reached target goals that have turned the tide against the epidemic.

“Achieving these targets will require a sustained and intensified national commitment to ending the epidemic,” said Robert Bonacci, lead author, of Brigham and Woman’s Hospital. “But if the U.S. does achieve a reduction to 12,000 new HIV infections by 2025, it could mark an important turning point in the U.S. HIV epidemic: a decline in the total number of people living with HIV in the U.S., and the beginning of the end of the U.S. AIDS epidemic.”

The mathematical modeling study investigated the momentum that could be gained against the disease, taking into factors those who have survived long-term with the infection, those who still do not know they are carriers infecting other people, and those who do not have access to treatments which may keep the virus at bay.

Key to the effort is a “90/90/90” goal by 2020. That entails getting 90 percent of the infected to know their status, 90 percent to receive appropriate care, and 90 percent to receive antiretroviral therapies to suppress the infection. That would place a foundation for a further improvement to “95/95/95” milestones by 2025.

By reaching “95/95/95” the country would reduce new infections to 12,000 – reducing the HIV transmission rate to 0.98 – and thus cresting a crucial turning point, they said.

The effort is “ambitious” to consider – but certainly “achievable,” they concluded.

Another key in reversing transmission rates is to get buy-in from the communities that are most affected: the gay, the young, blacks and Hispanics, and those who live in the southern states, they concluded.

The first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy was unveiled in 2010. President Barack Obama acknowledged that the pushback against the epidemic had become stagnant – and it was up to the medical community and its partners to seize back momentum against the disease.

“The question is now whether we know what to do, but whether we will do it… whether we will marshal our resources and the political will to confront a tragedy that is preventable,” Obama said.

Currently 1.2 million people in America are living with HIV. But there has been significant progress. Nearly 40,000 people were newly diagnosed in 2015 – but that was a nearly 20 percent drop in new infections since 2005, according to national statistics.

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