Monday, December 01, 2008
Is AIDS still really an issue?
We couldn't let World AIDS Day pass without having some sort of HIV/AIDS post, could we?
Does anyone else remember how rocked the world was when Magic Johnson announced on November 7, 1991 that he was HIV positive? It was the first celebrity that had been diagnosed with the virus that causes AIDS and was viewed as a death sentence. Most people believed that Magic would be dead before the year 2000. So here we are 17 years later and no one ever connects(at least publicly) Magic Johnson and AIDS anymore. How did that happen?
A lot has changed in the world since 1991 on the AIDS front. While there is still currently no cure for HIV, potent drug cocktails and lifestyle changes can push the disease into remission. This has caused many doctors and other experts to wonder as to whether or not HIV is the disease it was all cracked up to be.
In 1991, the question was for the quality of life for AIDS patients. Can they lead semi-normal lives? In 2008, the question has vastly changed. Now the question is if we spend too much on AIDS prevention and research.
HIV/AIDS has been, at least, contained in much of the world. True, it remains rampant in parts of Africa but the vast majority of the world has the spread of the disease under control. Couple that with the drug cocktails and those afflicted are leading very normal, long lives. No longer is the disease a death sentence. These developments have driven many to believe that too many dollars are allocated to AIDS. "AIDS is a terrible humanitarian tragedy, but it's just one of many terrible humanitarian tragedies," said Jeremy Shiffman, who studies health spending at Syracuse University. In fact, donations from the West for AIDS in Africa routinely outstrip the health budgets for countries like Uganda and Rwanda. This may seem all well and good, but then you must know that diarrhea kills 5 times as many people as HIV/AIDS in Africa. At last check, we didn't celebrate World Diarrhea Day. I would imagine we'd use a brown ribbon to commemorate that.
We should be proud of our accomplishments. We've taken a once-deadly disease and effectively neutralized it in a majority of the world. But has the time come to withdraw and reallocate some resources when it comes to the fight against AIDS? The red ribbon cause continues to be one of the sexiest out there, but at this point are we allowing more people to die because we're too fixated on AIDS?