WORLD A.I.D.S. DAY December 1

A  disease spread by contact and bigotry

It is a disease that was initially allowed to spread not merely by human contact, but by bigotry as well.

A doctor in Greenwich Village in NYC, who had many Gay patients noticed that some were exhibiting some odd symptoms, and requested a little used medication from the CDC, and the A.I.D.S. epidemic was born. Actually the existence of A.I.D.S. was discovered.

What began as a medical situation soon became a religiously based political one, as those with little knowledge and less medical training were somehow joyful that there was a disease affecting a community of which they did not approve. While they fooled themselves into wanting to believe the illness was a judgment from God directed toward an unacceptable community, most people were unaware that the disease was affecting every segment of the population. They were blinded to it. Their willfull ignorance allowed it to spread.

As a result, as one group did what it could to handle a medical condition, the rest of the population did not see how it was also affecting them. The Gay Community organized support networks both medical and social. The Community united doctors who were willing to be non-judgmental, hospices to take care of the ill, counselling centers to help those affected directly and indirectly, and prevention programs in the hope of slowing the spread.

The subsequent approaches to dealing with A.I.D.S are based on the grassroots reponse that was necessitated by the bigotry. It suddenly became obvious that it just wasn't “Those People”, but all people who could and would be affected.

The sainted Ronald Reagan bowed to the bigots accepting the judgment from God belief,  and only actually said “A.I.D.S” once toward the end of his eight year run. He had sat quietly during the worst years of the pandemic. He sat quietly as American citizens died.

Even to this day many of those who have been exposed and may be harboring the disease within themselves are not aware of it because they still hold that they do not belong to the groups who get it, and, so, do not get tested. But the reality is that all groups can get it, not just Gays, intravenous drug users, Haitians, and Sub-Saharan Africans.

It is estimated that in 2011, up to 1.9 million people worldwide died from AIDS-related illness. Between 2.2 million and 2.8 million people became newly infected with HIV, including 330,000 children. It is believed that between 31.4 million and 35.9 million people around the world are living with HIV, while being completely ignorant of the fact.

It is estimated that in sub-Saharan Africa, on average, 5% of the population are infected with HIV, but in some countries like Swaziland and Botswana the rate is about 30%. That is a total of 22.9 million people, or 68% of world infections. 66% of global deaths from AIDS-related illness, about 1.2 million, also occurred in the sub-Saharan region.

Ten goals have been set by the UN to be achieved by 2015.

1) To reduce sexual transmission by half.

2) To eliminate vertical transmission and reduce AIDS-related maternity deaths by half.

3) To prevent all new infections among young people who use drugs.

4) To provide universal access to antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV.

5) To reduce by half TB related deaths among people with HIV.

6) For national governments to ensure that all people with HIV receive essential care and support;

7) To reduce by half those countries that block effective responses by punitive laws relating to HIV transmission, sex work, drug use and homosexuality.

8)To reduce by half the countries that have HIV-related restrictions of entry, stay and residence.

9) To ensure that HIV-specific needs of women and girls are addressed in at least half of national HIV responses.

10) To aim for zero tolerance of gender-based violence.

The theme for World Aids Day for this year is "Getting to zero; zero new HIV infections; zero discrimination; zero AIDS-related deaths".

Although prevention of contraction has improved somewhat, except for the fact that there are still segments of the population who do not think they are at risk, and there are treatments available, there is much that needs to be done to meet the 2015 goal.

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