Monday, April 8, 2013

HIV: A Problem Under Control?

HIV. In the United States, more than 980,000 cases of AIDS have been reported to the government. Worldwide it is estimated that 33.2 million people are currently living with HIV. An epidemic that is infecting over 50,000 people a year in the United States and has currently killed more than 25 million people. HIV/AIDS is currently one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The year 1981, describes the first, most shocking cases of HIV in the United States, with 270 reported cases of severe immune deficiency among gay men. Yet, what if there were more ways for our society to become further educated on this fatal disease, you would think they would take the precautionary steps right? Wrong. The government and HIV/AIDS foundations have been fighting the severity of this problem for years, trying to obtain medication and a solution to the problem. Although it seems that this deadly disease is not yet decreasing in numbers, but increases. AIDS foundations try and create ways to advocate the awareness and severity of this deadly sexually transmitted disease. To educate and furthermore direct our society to a more AIDS free one, everyone, worldwide, needs to jump on board and gain more knowledge about HIV and AIDS; this will secure our society to becoming less prone to getting AIDS and transmitting it to others.

Image from Cartoon Stock

            So why are so many people still so uneducated about HIV/AIDS if foundations and organizations are actively advocating the disease? There is a plethora of reasons that can contribute to how uninformed our society is about HIV/AIDS. This deadly disease only allows society to do so much promoting and awareness until, society on its own needs to be responsible and careful.  For instance, the AIDS Calgary Awareness Association actively gets involved in these AIDS community. Their mission is to reduce the harm associated with HIV/AIDS for all individuals and communities they serve. This association takes part in the AIDS Walk for Life and AIDS Awareness Week. These are great ways to make AIDS more aware within societies, by bringing everyone together for the support of that one cause. Although with these activities going on, AIDS still seems to be infecting more people. It is very easy to go out and speak about a topic, but to be able to move the audience to want to get checked or to be the people that make the difference is the hard part.  Medicine in the United States is always a touchy subject with people considering the prices of medications; this definitely has a huge impact HIV/AIDS victims.  For example, John Martin, Gilead CEO recently jacks up drug prices to $28,500 per year for AIDS medications.  Top of the line doctors and medicine practices are used every day to find a cure for this fatal disease. Prices of medicine make it almost impossible for one to obtain, but the real cure for this fatal epidemic is in the youth and our society in general. Our youth needs to be aware of how this is affecting America and that’s what certain foundations do their advocates for this epidemic. If people are not aware of their partner’s status, this epidemic will never get better.  It is so much more common for our youth to get tested of other sexually transmitted diseases, but AIDS never seems to be the one.
            In recent studies, more outbreaks of AIDS have taken the death rate to higher levels globally. Every 9.5 minutes someone in the United States is infected with HIV. The fact that our society has been putting in efforts and research to educate and determine when one is said to develop HIV, yet the numbers, statistically are not decreasing as rapidly has one had hoped.  Americans seem to be very careless with their health, not just talking about HIV/AIDS, but obesity, cancer and much more. Globally HIV/AIDS is not decreasing, but increasing. The United States have been very active trying to make this disease more aware and there efforts have been slowly paying off. In November 24 2009, UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) reports that there has been a significant decline (-17%) in new HIV infections in the past decade. Although when one looks at the more recent people diagnosed with HIV infection by 2011, the numbers do not seem to be falling at a rate that we could say is successful. In 2010, White Americans rate seemed to increase from 6.6 percent to 7.0 percent in 2011, African Americans rates seem to be increasing as well from 58.0 percent to a huge 60.4 percent in 2011. “The rate of new HIV infections has stabilized in many countries, the disease continues to exact an enormous toll: 1.8 million deaths in 2010 alone, grief and hardship for countless families and communities, and deleterious economic effects as those in the prime of life who lack timely access to treatment are lost to parenting and the workforce” (Fauci). In a study done showing how persons in special treatment with HIV/AIDS greatly improves their health status by receiving treatment (Moore). These results are an important demonstration of what can be achieved by HIV patients in care.
Video from CBS
Society needs to become more aware of their decisions that they are making.  Not only do they affect ones self, they also affect others around them. Now what needs to happen is force and legislation to help revise guidelines and make people more aware of this epidemic. Barack Obama has created a lot more opportunities and efforts to create a more HIV-free world. In 2009, President Obama called from the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States and again in May 2009, President Obama launched the Global Health Initiative, six year, $63 billion effort to develop a comprehensive approach to addressing global health in low- and middle-income countries, which will potentially help this epidemic worldwide. There are a plethora of reasons as to why President Obama keeps spending more and more money on AIDS research.  It is not just a problem that we, as Americans, have; this problem is global. By developing efforts to approach and address global health can only improve the health of people in American too.  In 2010, President Obama signs the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which expanded access, care and prevention for all Americans. Not a lot of people consider HIV/AIDS to be an epidemic, or even put it in the same category as cancer, but it can potentially be much worse considering that it gets spread through sexual intercourse.

Image from BET Health News

Now what needs to happen is society needs to become more educated through schools and HIV/AIDS needs to be a more popular topic in the United States. High schools throughout some states never really talk about HIV/AIDS and how much of a problem it is or even where to get tested.  Yes, places have testing centers, but not many people know of these places or that these options are even available. Just simply making this topic more aware to our youth will be greatly beneficial to our society. 1 in 5 people have HIV/AIDS and do not even know that they have it.  It is completely consuming the United States and a lot of our youth do not even realize what they’re doing when they are exploring with their partners. People know of HIV and what it turns into but a lot of people do not know the hardcore facts and how easily this gets transferred from one another. 
With the epidemic of HIV/AIDS now being accountable for more than half of Americans death, not only do the foundations and government need to create better methods, guidelines needs to be set for the obscene amount of cases of this life-changing disease. Without more awareness of this disease, nothing is going to get better, adolescents will continue to have unprotected sex and extract the STD from their partner. Our youth needs to be in control and aware of this disease and the effects it has on this country and world.  Its time for a big change America, it is unfair to keep putting our youth in danger just because education about the disease is not out there in schools or homes.  At the end of the day, HIV/AIDS is extremely preventable if the protection, education, and care are taken. 

Work Cited

Fauci AS, Folkers GK. Toward an AIDS-Free Generation. JAMA. 2012;308(4):343-344.   

Moore, Richard D., MD, Jeanne C. Keruly, and John G. Bartlett. "Clinical Infectious

Diseases." Improvement in the Health of HIV-Infected Persons in Care: Reducing Disparities. Oxford Journals, 26 Sept. 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2013.