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    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    World AIDS Day

    From Reuters Alertnet:

    The number of adults and children infected with HIV/AIDS reached 40.3 million in 2005, the highest level ever.
    Following are some key facts and figures about the disease on World AIDS Day:
    * About 3.1 million people died in 2005; 570,000 of them were children. This is almost 1 million more deaths than in 2003, with 5 million new infections in 2005.
    * Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized in 1981.
    * Sub-Saharan Africa has 10 percent of the world's population, but more than 60 percent of all people infected with HIV.
    * An estimated 2.4 million people died of HIV-related illnesses in 2005 in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 3.2 million became infected with HIV.
    * In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the number of HIV infections has risen by one quarter to 1.6 million since 2003, and the number of AIDS deaths almost doubled to 62,000.
    * In Asia, 8.3 million people had HIV in 2005, including 1.1 million newly infected, and 520,000 AIDS patients died.
    * An estimated 3.7 million people are infected with HIV in the Americas and Western and Central Europe.
    * The AIDS virus is transmitted through sex, shared needles, and from mother to child during birth and breast-feeding.
    * Cocktails of drugs known as highly active anti-retroviral therapy, also ARVs or HAART, can keep HIV-infected patients healthy and prevent the development of AIDS. About 20 such drugs are on the market, including cheap, generic copies.
    * Experts agree that a vaccine offers the best hope for stopping AIDS. Currently, more than 30 potential AIDS vaccines are being tested in people in 19 countries but none has shown any special promise.
    * Condoms can help prevent the spread of AIDS and activists are clamoring for the development of a gel or cream called a microbicide that could be used to prevent sexual transmission of the virus.


    (Tipping my hat to The Black Informant for pointing me in the right direction.)

    The Advocate:

    The United States has done a poor job responding to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, says national gay rights group Human Rights Campaign in its second annual World AIDS Day report card released Thursday. ...

    Prevention: F

    As AIDS ravages minority communities, government programs are failing to adequately respond to the epidemic among vulnerable populations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that approximately 46% of African-American men who have sex with men in five major U.S. cities are HIV-positive and that almost two thirds of those infected do not know their status. Infections among gay and bisexual men rose 8%; the group still makes up the largest percentage of new HIV cases.

    —Care and Treatment: F

    This year has seen significant cuts to federal HIV/AIDS treatment and care programs. After consistently flat-funding most of the Ryan White CARE Act for five years and passing billions of dollars in cuts to Medicaid, a CDC study determined that 211,000 Americans are not receiving the antiretroviral treatments they need.

    —Research: D

    The most recent version of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill contained a less than 1% increase to the National Institute of Health, the smallest percentage increase since 1970.

    —Global AIDS: C

    The highest mark on the report card goes to Global AIDS as Congress passed and the president signed the Assistance for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Developing Countries Act this year. However, this year the U.S. will not fully meet its funding commitment to the Global Fund, and the U.S. government has mandated that at least one third of contributions to international programs must be devoted to abstinence-only programs, which many experts believe are seriously flawed and leave little control to local experts.


    Well, what can we do? We have to make choices. We have the money either to spread democracy or keep AIDS from spreading. Well-done, America.

    I feel I must point out this sentence: Schoolchildren in Senegal pledged to abstain from sex and Indian village women cast off a veil of shame about their HIV status as World AIDS Day was marked around the globe Thursday. Gee, with pledges like that, why would anyone feel shame?

    Feministing has a good round-up too.

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