Today marks 20 years since the first World AIDS Day was recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1988.
33 million people live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. 190 countries around the world recognize this day to raise awareness that the battle is not over in the fight against the world’s number one health threat.
An International Conference on AIDs will be held in Africa, December 3 through 7.
In the U.S., the Black AIDS Institute is asking the Obama administration to set up a domestic funding program for HIV/AIDS prevention, according to BET. The institute says this is increasingly a black issue as about half of the over one million Americans living with HIV or AIDS are black.
Increasingly women and girls are finding themselves part of the growing numbers, with about 11 percent of newly reported AIDS cases contracted either through sex with infected men or injected drug use. African American woman accounted for 66 percent of the newly diagnosed cases in 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The New York Times, in an editorial, says that the WHO developed a mathematical model predicting what would happen if most adults and adolescents were tested every year for the AIDS virus, and those who were positive were treated immediately with antiretroviral medications. The policy now is to use the drugs after your immune system is depressed.
The results of this speculation were published in The Lancet last week. The British medical journal reports that the policy virtually eliminated the virus within a decade largely because the virus would be reduced in blood and genital secretions.
That could ultimately be a cheaper solution than waiting to treat the patient in an advanced stage, The Lancet concludes.
One of the organizations dealing with pediatrics AIDS is the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation. It reports that around the world, some 1,000 babies are infected with HIV every day. The foundation is calling on the government to fully fund PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief which gets life saving services to those most in need.
Most of the developing nations represent the barriers to treatment.
Voice of America spoke to the foundation director in Tanzania, Africa. Dr. Denis Tindyebwa, who heads Pediatric Care and Treatment.
There are more than two million children living with HIV/AIDS globally and more than 90 percent of those children live in Africa. Many cases of transmission are from mother to child and drugs are not available to many pregnant women, either because of distance or because of a lack of health care workers.
“Those children really are not getting the treatment that they should be getting. Only about 20 percent of the children are getting the life saving anti-retroviral drugs. But the issue is that these children in actual fact should not be getting HIV in the first place. And yet, every day, approximately 1,000 children become newly infected with HIV, the majority of them through mother-to-child transmission, and the majority of them, over 90 percent of them, in Africa," he says to VOA.
Culturally the real danger is from the younger generation that is not afraid of HIV/AIDS like their parents and grandparents were. Poverty drives the HIV/AIDS epidemic, he says.
Recently a man in Berlin was reported to be cured of AIDS by receiving transplanted blood stem cells from someone who was naturally resistant to the virus.
The man had the transplant to wipe out leukemia. Stem cell transplants require wiping out a patient’s immune system with radiation and drugs, a procedure that kills up to 30 percent of patients, so it’s not thought to be practical for widespread application. #