World Aids Day

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Today is World Aids Day.

I probably wouldn’t have known that if I weren’t enrolled in a class on Aids Policy at Fordham.

Before taking this course, this is what I knew about Aids: It’s a sexually transmitted disease and Magic Johnson has it and he seems fine.

That is about it.

I was an infant during the 80’s epidemic. Recently I watched two films for my course about the history of Aids,  “Longtime Companion” and “And the Band Played On” give you the background and the history but also show the stigma, discrimination and the poor response our government, the Center for Disease Control and “The Blood Industry” had when Aids first surfaced in the U.S.

This course and my wonderful professor have sparked an urgency in me about the state of Aids in our country and around the world!

New statistics were just released  about Aids in the U.S. If you think this issue does not affect you, here’s just a quick look at what the stats say.

  •  While the number of new HIV infections (incidence) is down from its peak in the 1980s, estimates indicate that there have been approximately 50,000 new HIV infections annually in recent years.
  • Number of new HIV infections, 2009: 48,100
  • Number of people living with HIV/AIDS: 1.1 million
  • Number of AIDS deaths since beginning of epidemic: 617,025, including more than 16,000 in 2008
  • Percent of people infected with HIV who don’t know it: 20%
  • Teens and young adults under the age of 30 continue to be at risk, with those between the ages of 13 and 29 accounting for 39% of new HIV infections in 2009, the largest share of any age group. Most young people are infected sexually.
  • Among young people, minorities have been particularly affected. Black teens represented 68% of AIDS diagnoses among 13–19 year-olds in 2009; Latino teens represented 21%.
  • Today, women represent a larger share of new HIV infections compared to earlier in the epidemic. HIV incidence among women increased gradually until the late 1980s, declined during the early 1990s, and has remained relatively stable since, at approximately a quarter of new infections (23% in 2009) Based on the CDC’s most recent estimates, more than 290,000 women are living with HIV/AIDS.

  • Racial and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic, and represent the majority of new AIDS diagnoses, new HIV infections, people living with HIV/AIDS, and AIDS deaths.
Those numbers are for the U.S. alone. Here is a look at Global Aids statistics
  • There are approximately 34 million people currently living with HIV and nearly 30 million people have died of AIDS-related causes since the beginning of the epidemic.
  • While cases have been reported in all regions of the world, almost all those living with HIV (97%) reside in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Most people living with HIV or at risk for HIV do not have access to prevention, care, and treatment, and there is still no cure.
  • HIV primarily affects those in their most productive years; about half of new infections are among those under age 25.
  • HIV not only affects the health of individuals, it impacts households, communities, and the development and economic growth of nations. Many of the countries hardest hit by HIV also suffer from other infectious diseases, food insecurity, and other serious problems.
  • Most new infections are transmitted heterosexuality, although risk factors vary. In some countries, men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers are at significant risk.
  • Women represent about half of all people living with HIV worldwide, and more than half (59%) in sub-Saharan Africa. Gender inequalities, differential access to services, and sexual violence increase women’s vulnerability to HIV, and women, especially younger women, are biologically more susceptible to HIV.
  •  Young people, ages 15–24, account for 42% of new HIV infections (among those 15 and over). In some areas, young women are more are more heavily impacted than young men. For instance, in Southern Africa, young women are up to 5 times more likely to become infected with HIV than their male counterparts.
  • Globally, there were 3.4 million children living with HIV in 2010, 390,000 new infections among children, and 250,000 AIDS deaths. In 2009, there were approximately 16.6 million AIDS orphans (children who have lost one or both parents to HIV), most of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa (89%).
  • This and more information about Global Aids can be found here  and
Prevention and Treatment
  • Effective prevention strategies include behavior change programs, condoms, HIV testing, blood supply safety, harm reduction efforts for injecting drug users, and male circumcision. Additionally, recent research has shown that providing HIV treatment to people with HIV significantly reduces the risk of transmission to their negative partners and the use of antiretroviral-based microbicide gel has been found to reduce the risk of HIV infection in women.
  • Experts recommend that prevention be based on “knowing your epidemic,” that is, tailoring prevention to the local context and epidemiology, and using a combination of prevention strategies, bringing programs to scale, and sustaining efforts over time.
  • Access to prevention, however, remains limited.
  • HIV treatment includes the use of combination Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) to attack the virus itself, and medications to prevent and treat the many opportunistic infections that can occur when the immune system is compromised by HIV.
  • Combination ART, first introduced in 1996, has led to dramatic reductions in morbidity and mortality, and access has increased in recent years, rising from less than half a million people on treatment in 2001 to 6.6 million people in 2010, an increase of 1.35 million people since 2009.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people receiving ART increased significantly by 20% between 2009 and 2010.
  • The share of pregnant women receiving ART for the prevention of mother- to-child transmission of HIV increased from 15% in 2005 to 48% in 2010. Access to ART among children has also risen significantly, although they have less access than adults.
  • Despite these successes, only 47% of the 14.2 million people who were eligible for treatment were receiving it by the end of 2010.

So I ask everyone to do your part, know your HIV status, know the facts, support funding for HIV, if you have children/teens, talk to them about sex education and HIV Prevention.

Young people are the most at risk, lets focus on PREVENTION! This is a preventable disease, why are so many of our young people still being infected?!

And I leave you with a short 4 minute video titled “Aids at 30” 

Please copy the link and paste on your browser to view!


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