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?


Anonymous said...

While you make a good point about other things killing far more people, I would disagree that AIDS has been effectively contained in large portions of the world.

The reporting from governments is entirely biased and skewed. In some instances government reporting of the statistics has been off by a factor of 10 (In a developed country I'll leave unnamed). Central Asia, Mongolia, etc. are dealing with an increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS and a decrease in government funding and interest in combating it.

Anonymous said...

Idiot. Look up the meaning of "remission". And get a clue.

Pretzel Stick said...

Remission was a bad choice of words. You're right. I stand corrected.

Buster Bluth said...

I have serious doubts about some of your claims in this post. First and formost, we live in one of the very few countries where AIDS is "contained" to any degree. And even this is a misnomer, AIDS statistics are hard to track because people are living, spreading, and dying from AIDS infections without ever knowing it. Russia has one of the fastest growing populations of AIDS in the world and they certainly arent a third world African country. Thailand, Egypt, South Africa, India, Eastern Europe, and Brazil are also develped nations that are heavily stricken by AIDS and HIV.
Secondly, claiming that drug cocktails (the 4 drug protease inhibitor combination that is most common) are extremely expensive, and because of bans on generic drugs, even in the US most people who are recieving these full treatments either have to declare bankruptcy and recieve the medicines from public health agencies. I have personal experience working with public health departments and can attest that AIDS and HIV always dramatically impacts a persons life.
You also make a claim that other issues kill more than AIDS. Again, so many people have AIDS but are never diagnosed that their deaths are attributed to other things. Also, you need to keep in mind that AIDS in itself is not lethal, it destroys your resistance to oppurtunistic infections (like scurvy, sarcoma, staph infections, pneumonia etc.) Again, it may be listed as one thing, but AIDS is the reason they have these infections.
Lastly to argue that AIDS is no longer a security issue worthy of the money it is getting is to ignore that fact that this is a pandemic that strikes most the adult productive (defensive?) population. Countries around the world are and will continue to experience serious society issues simply because their working age/ military age population is so stricken with disease. If posting on World AIDS Day, a little more complete arguments are needed.

Amanda said...

Thought this statement correlated well.

1 December 2008
Following is the statement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on the occasion of World AIDS Day:

“This year, we mark both the 20th World AIDS Day and the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is fitting that during these landmark anniversaries we consider how far we have come in the global effort to combat AIDS.

In 2006, UN Member States made a commitment to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010. Today, fewer people are becoming infected with HIV, and fewer are dying of AIDS-related illnesses. At the end of 2007, three million people in low- and middle- income countries were taking anti-retroviral treatment. But much remains to be done.

Twenty-seven years after AIDS was first identified, stigma against people living with HIV is as strong as it ever was. One third of countries still do not have laws to protect people living with HIV. In most countries, discrimination remains against women, men who have sex with men, sex workers, drug users, and ethnic minorities.

The continued existence of punitive laws on disclosure of HIV status, the criminalization of the transmission of HIV and travel bans for people living with HIV, inadequate protection of women and girls from sexual violence, the marginalization of and hostility against sexual minorities, sex workers, injecting drug users, prisoners and other vulnerable groups all combine to drive them underground and away from HIV services. Like all people, these groups are entitled to the right to health and the full enjoyment of their human rights even though they may engage in activities that are criminalized in some countries.

AIDS thrives on injustice and inequality. A human rights-based response is critical to preventing new HIV infections and mitigating the epidemic’s impact – whoever people are, and wherever they live.

In this 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, it is unacceptable that accident of birthplace or residence should determine our HIV survival prospects.

On World AIDS Day 2008, let the promise of human dignity enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provide the vision and impetus for reinvigorated efforts to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support”. said...


I hope this finds you well. Healthline just released an informative article with graphics regarding HIV/AIDs facts in the US and around the World. The page details who is being effected and the cost of treatment. You can check out the resource here:

This valuable, med-reviewed information shows the need to continueeducating people on prevention and how to protect yourself and your loved ones. I thought this would be a great resource for your audience, and I am writing to ask if you would include it as a source of information on your page:

Please let me know if this would be possible. I’m happy to answer any other questions as well.

Warm regards,
Maggie Danhakl • Assistant Marketing Manager
Healthline • The Power of Intelligent Health
660 Third Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 | @Healthline | @HealthlineCorp

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