AIDS: The Search for a Cure


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AIDS: The Search for a Cure



788,400 minutes

In 1999 the New York health department released figures indicating that after diagnosis of full blown AIDS, patients had an average of 19 months left to live: 788,400 minutes. These figures with only about 20 years of knowledge to work with: the AIDS virus didn’t start appearing in the United States until the late seventies, and was unacknowledged until the 80’s, making AIDS research a relatively new field. First stigmatized and associated with unsafe homosexual sex and then mainstreamed when professional basketball player Magic Johnson announced he was infected, AIDS awareness has come a long way. AIDS education through schools, public service announcements, and government organizations has informed the populace of the various ways the disease is spread. Media attention in the mid-90s promoted research and drug development for HIV and AIDS, but in more recent years it seems to have been dropped from public consciousness. With over 800,000 people living with AIDS in the United States today it is our public amenability to provide adequate care for patients and to study the virus, that we might work towards education and a cure.

The Facts

Although there may never be a definitive cure for AIDS, the chances are very good that a vaccine will be developed for HIV, saving the lives of millions and eventually also saving our citizens billions and billions of dollars in health care. However, it takes a long time for drugs to be researched and made available on the market. Teams of highly trained and educated scientists spend many hours in the laboratory to develop medicine capable of combating the AIDS virus. All of this requires money. Experienced scientists must be paid accordingly, and it can take 20 years of research to test one drug. This time is precious to those suffering from disease and patients sometimes take dangerous risks, buying drugs from other countries before they have been approved in the U.S. or taking completely untested drugs. Plus, even when millions are already spent, if the product is ineffective or has counterproductive side effects the work is started all over again. In the private sector, the money for drug research comes from investors who hope to make a profit once the medication is on the market. Drug companies have to make enough money to cover the costs of production and their investors, this is one reason prescription drugs are so expensive for consumers.

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"AIDS: The Search for a Cure." 123HelpMe.com. 15 Dec 2017
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This also means there is not as much investigation into drugs for conditions whose populace don’t have the money to pay for them. A good example is the California based VaxGen Inc, a company specializing in treating infectious disease. Since their drug AIDSVAX hasn’t proven to reduce HIV infection they have decided to finish out the studies on it but do “not plan to continue development of AIDSVAX unless the U.S. government and/or philanthropic organizations fund such development.” Their investors have lost money and they are disinterested in doing more AIDS related work until it seems more profitable.

The Government

Government funding plays a role in drug development in order to serve its citizens and give them the most productive and fulfilling life for the longest amount of time possible. The government funds drug research that the corporate sector will not pay for and subsidizes drug costs for those citizens who cannot afford the medicine vital to their health. Despite this, the government does not do enough. With the number of citizens living in deplorable conditions due to AIDS, lesions covering their bodies, and therapy exorbinantly expensive, the government should make AIDS research a much higher priority. American citizens today are painfully unaware of the widespread prevalence and devastation caused by AIDS in their own country, often preferring to relegate the epidemic to Africa and Latin America, where infection is on the rise. Despite media and education campaigns, Americans continue to engage in extremely risky behavior without full knowledge of the danger they are placing themselves in.

The Consequences

It is outrageous that thousands of people die each year through a lack of education. In this case, however, ignorance is not just an absence of precious knowledge but a willful shackling of wisdom that can save lives. Because of the stigma still sometimes associated with AIDS many potential educators are intimidated to teach on the subject because of its varied and sometimes explosive emotional potential. They are right to recognize the possible chain reaction of disturbing something which our public consciousness has allowed to lay dormant but this complacency cannot be allowed or sanctioned. The dehumanizing effects of AIDS are not so much the physical deterioration of one’s body but the lack of rage in our country to do anything about it through education or finance. It is time to recognize each minute as an opportunity to be a power for good, no matter how many you have left.


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