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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.
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 Nov 2019
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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.