American experts believe that although the elimination of AIDS seems unlikely, over a long period of time it is possible to work towards a lower rate of infection.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science last weekend, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the disease cannot just be “shut off” because it is transmitted by sexual activity, which is an essential part of human nature.

One of America’s finest researchers into HIV and AIDS, Fauci is also director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

He estimates that there are 4.3 million new infections of HIV every year around the world, but that 1 in 4 people do not realise they are infected.

This means it is vital that infected people get diagnosed and treated, as people who know they have the disease are less likely to spread it to others.

Public fatigue in reading about AIDS can be a serious problem.

Fauci said: “Once you take it off the radar screen it’s hard to get out the message of prevention.”

However, there are worries that HIV and AIDS are gaining less media attention because of the number of drug treatments available, which lengthen the lives of patients.

While the current triple-drug treatment will not eliminate the disease, it can reduce the amount of virus in the system sharply, also preventing the spread of further infection.

This treatment is now being used in parts of Africa, which has caused concern, as sufferers in Africa may build resistance to the drug quicker because they have not started with the single or two drug course.