As someone who has lost both friends and family to this terrible disease, I ask that you take a moment and read this article by Dr. Anthony Fauci. He makes some very compelling points about what we need to do as a nation, particularly in the areas of treatment and testing, to combat HIV/AIDS.
As Dr. Fauci points out:
In the United States, more than 1 million people are living with HIV. And 56,000 more people are infected each year in the U.S., driving HIV prevalence rates in some of our communities to levels that rival those seen in sub-Saharan Africa. Gay and bisexual men, and African-Americans in general, are disproportionately affected. The true ground zero of the HIV epidemic in the United States is in those communities.If this disease was seen as a middle to upper-class white person's disease, would our legislators/policy-makers/health care professionals have been so slow to act?
Regardless, we must remove the barriers to testing and treatment that are helping to feed this plague. Specifically, HIV testing should be a routine part of primary health care -- and primary health care needs to be made available to everyone.
According to Dr. Fauci, more that a fifth of HIV+ people in the U.S. don't know they have the disease. If you accept the conservative estimate of one million Americans being infected with HIV, that means more than 200,000 people are going untreated, uncounseled, and are likely doing things that put others at risk.
Today, I ask you for nothing accept this. Take a quick moment and read Dr. Fauci's short article and think about HIV/AIDS. Just think about it. And the next time you are voting for a candidate, are listening to a debate, or are given the chance to voice an opinion, remember what Dr. Fauci wrote.
We must act, but before action comes thought and debate. And I hope you will join the debate in support of those afflicted with this disease. As much as they need your donations to find a cure, they may just need this country's political will-to-act even more.
World AIDS Day 2008: Much accomplished, much to do