AIDS

AIDS

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     “Nearly 90 percent of Russia’s HIV infections occur among addicts sharing dirty needles” (Klesius, p.35). This percentage from a National Geographic magazine would differ heavily from that of the United States. The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation reported that through the year 2002 in the state of Colorado that only 9% of aids cases in the state were due to injection drug use and 25% on the national level. (Kaiser Family Foundation) In the United States, Men who have sex with men would more closely share Russia’s dirty needle problem for being the number 1 cause for AIDS transmission with 46% in the U.S. and 69% in the state of Colorado. These figures here in the states prove to coincide with the majority of Americans view on who they think is the stereotypical person infected with AIDS, gay males.
     I took the liberty of asking random Americans who they thought was stereotypical person in America infected with AIDS. The results didn’t vary from my understanding of previous viewpoints. 18 out of 20 of these random Americans told me that they considered the stereotypical infected person with AIDS would be a gay male. I then asked them if this changed their viewpoints on the AIDS epidemic and its seriousness. 8 out the 20 told me that they didn’t worry about it because they believed it to only be a problem for gays here in America and those who live in Africa, not themselves. Now, I have to say that this is a pretty close minded view shared by a large number of Americans, if this percentage of my poll were to represent the whole United States. I do note that Gay males have the highest percentage of those who have the disease here in America, but should that be a reason for not caring about this epidemic?
     “Yet AIDS is still a serious problem because of the high fatality rates, the costs of treating the disease, and the difficulty of eliminating such HIV/AIDS risk factors as unprotected sex and injecting drug use”(132). This statement wouldn’t be so bad if it were describing a virus with only a small population. Unfortunately this statement is describing one with a large population. The Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) and the White House have statistics of the AIDS epidemic here in the states and the rest of the world. None of which are miniscule by any means.

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These numbers should be taken seriously. Hopefully this information should shine a light on the importance of AIDS acknowledgement here in the United States and in the rest of the world. “The estimated number of diagnoses of AIDS through 2002 in the United States is 886,575.”(C.D.C.) This is a big difference when you think that less then 20 years ago that number was 4,445 in 1984. (211) That number has doubled 197 times. “The HIV/AIDS pandemic has killed at least 20 million of the more than 60 million people it has infected thus far, leaving 14 million orphans worldwide. Today, on the continent of Africa, nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus- including three million children under the age of 15.”(White House)
     The AIDS epidemic is ever increasing and doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all, in fact it is speeding up. This is a real life problem here in the world at this present time. No matter which way you break it down, the AIDS virus affects every ones lives in the world. It dictates how people live their lives sexually, how many enjoy their lives recreationally with drug use involving needles, how hospitals treat blood, those who live with the disease or some one who has it, and those who have had to deal with the death of those who were close to them because of the disease. To consider the AIDS epidemic a small priority and to not consider it yours and everyone else’s problem is foolish. More and more we’re going to have to deal with this as united world, because it is a world problem, not just a gay or African problem, statistics prove it. To stereotype and judge those with the disease will just hinder any process in place to slow and stop this deadly disease. There are ways to help combat the AIDS virus, and there are treatments, organizations, precautionary measures and governmental funding to help in the fight as well.
     To stop the spread of the AIDS virus a person must take certain precautions when dealing with sex and drug use involving needles. Sexually active people should first get a blood check to see if they have the AIDS virus, it is also important to understand if the person they choose to be sexually active with have gotten a AIDS check as well. In any circumstance, people should use condoms when choosing to be sexually active. When taking drugs that involve the use of needles people need to never share or use already used needles. Abstinence from sex and drugs is the only for sure way to prevent the transmission of the AIDS virus. The acts of sex and drug use don’t just pertain to the gay population here in the United States as shown from figures earlier. No matter who you are, gay or not, if you are active with sex and drug use with needles you are running a greater risk of transmitting the disease then those who aren’t active.
     Unfortunately we can’t just take these precautionary measures and forget get about the problem at hand. There are still 38 million people around the world with the deadly virus, a little under a million here in the states. Fortunately the AIDS epidemic is taken very seriously in the scientific world as well as the medical and global world. In America, the first act to help those who have the troubling disease was set up in the early 1990’s. “The Ryan White CARE (Comprehensive AIDS Resource Emergency) Act was originally signed August 18, 1990, as a federal program designed to improve the quality and availability of care for persons with HIV/AIDS and their families.”(Johns Hopkins) The Ryan White CARE act helps people with outpatient health care, medications, and even housing and transportation. The United States government also is spending incredible amounts of money in AIDS research and helping those who have the AIDS virus here in America as well as other countries. “In 2005 funding for domestic AIDS research, care, prevention, and treatment will soar to 17.1 billion dollars. Also, an increase to 2.8 billion dollars in combating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in focus countries of the Emergency Plan for AIDS relief, including Africa and the Caribbean.” (White House) With all this money funding AIDS relief, one must consider that there is a great importance focused on the AIDS virus. There are also treatments for those who have the AIDS virus that have significantly lowered its death rate. “There are significant reductions in AIDS incidence and deaths since 1996 through use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)” (Cock and Janssen, 236) HAART treatments are the only option for those who have AIDS, because as of now there is still not a cure for it. To not care for these people would be the same as not caring for any other persons live. It’s unfortunate, but there are still many people who could care less when it came to the AIDS epidemic.
     The AIDS epidemic is ever increasing into the largest threat known to man. To poke fun at or to not take seriously the severity of this epidemic would be detrimental to the United States and the world as a whole. Everyone needs to share the same empathetic view on those who have the deadly virus and work together as well as individuals to combat this relentless killer. If ignorance persists, so will AIDS.
     
     
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