Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Losing Battle Against HIV

Our politicians, both Democrat and Republican, emphatically debate whether we are winning the war in Afghanistan, the war against terror, the war against drugs, and the "war" against illegal immigration.  However, there is one war that has seemingly fallen off the radar - and we are losing badly.  We are taking major casualties in the war against HIV and unfortunately, its getting worse.

There are approximately 1.2 million Americans with the HIV virus.  Just yesterday, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a harrowing report stating that 1 in five people with HIV in the US are completely unaware that they have the devastating virus.  Additionally, only half of the people who know they have HIV are receiving continuous medical care.  This means that over 310,000 Americans living with HIV are not receiving the proper medical treatment and care to battle the disease.

This is so alarming because over the last 15 years, scientists have made medical breakthroughs by creating drugs that reduce the HIV levels so low that it cant develop into full blown AIDS.  But if  over 310,000  people are not getting proper treatment and if  approximately 240,000 people don't even know they have the virus, that's potentially over 550 thousand Americans that may succomb to the disease.
The CDC, in its October 2011 Morbitdity and Mortality Weekly Report, gives some guidance for this losing battle.  It states that the US must battle HIV with a coordinated response.  This effort, consisting of data sharing between the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System (NHBS), states, and local governments can reduce the number of infections and the health disparity between minorities and whites in the US. 

Now states are taking some action in this war but they need to do more.  For example, states and local governments do an adequate job of tracking statistics, analyzing data, and providing contraceptives.  But they must provide more firepower using the plethora of data and research they have.  They must spend more time targeting high-risk groups, helping these groups and educating our youth.  They must use television, radio and social media if they really want to target groups the virus devestates the most. 

Inner-cities are especially hit hard and need research and education more than ever.  The CDC reports that groups (blacks and latinos) in these areas will more than likely see an increase in new HIV cases.  In response, the CDC is launching an HIV testing campaign in the highest risk cities.  These cities are: Atlanta, Baltimore, Houston, New York City, Oakland, California and Washington, D.C.   If the CDC really wants to educate and prevent these groups from these areas, they must coordinate an effort and enlist atheletes, musicians, teachers, churches, and most importantly schools.

We cannot afford to lose this battle against HIV.  This especially hits home to me because the virus is decimating the black community.  So, to all readers of TUP, please go get tested, please use protection, and please EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN!!!

1.  Do you think the CDC, states and local governments are doing enough to battle HIV?
2.  What efforts do you think could make a difference in the battle against HIV?

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