So today, December 1, is International AIDS day. Being a member of the AIDS research community, part of my job is to try to interpret data coming in from Sub-saharan Africa, and the Asian subcontinent in order to more accurately model the growth of this horrible pandemic. However before I get all statistical on you there are several things that I feel that everyone should be aware of.
1). HIV/AIDS is NOT a punishment. It isn't retribution for being gay, or having sex with lots of people or being a sex worker or being addicted to IV drugs or engaging in any of the activities that most people associate with HIV/AIDS. This is perhaps the most important and hardest thing to realize, HIV/AIDS and people that are living with it are NOT bad people because of it.
2). People with AIDS should not be pitied, don't get me wrong it's tough and sucks but I'm sure rather than your sympathy people with this horrible disease need your support and encouragement more than anything else.
3). People use this disease as a divisive tool to separate factions of our society, when it's so sad that something this difficult should be bringing everyone together so that we can ALL benefit.
4). I know this is pedantic on my part but you can NOT get HIV from kissing, hugging, holding hands, sharing cups, sharing clothes or anything that doesn't involve the exchange of bodily fluids through open wounds.
HIV is a very fragile virus, it can't survive outside the body...... we need to B*&ch slap this mother.
Now onto the sad part.... for those that are having a good day don't read below, this aint gonna put you in a good mood.
By this time in 2004 39.4 million people were living with HIV, of which 2.2 million were children under the age of 15, and 17.6 were women.
In 2004 there were 510,000 deaths due to AIDS related complications in children under 15 and 2.6 million deaths for adults. Of these deaths, 2.3 million of them occurred in sub-saharan Africa.
Condom use in a 2001 survey in Uganda showed that less than 20% of women use a condom with someone they aren't married to.
In South Africa the belief still exists that an HIV+ man can cure himself through sex with a virgin.
In Washington D.C. 1 in 20 people have HIV.
1 in 10 Gay men in D.C. have HIV
1 in 3 Black men in D.C. who have sex with men have HIV.
Around the world 6,000 people between the ages of 15-24 become infected with HIV every day. That's a little bit more than 4 people every minute of every hour of every day. If it takes you 5 minutes to read this blog, by the time you're done enough children/young adults will have become infected to fill a classroom.
Since I've been born in 1982, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS. That's more than any war and bigger than many countries.
Africa has 12 million AIDS orphans.
Washington D.C., has more AIDS cases than all but 7 states in the entire country.
For major cities the only places that have higher HIV infection rates are NYC and Miami.
Every day millions of people wake up and have to deal with liver damage, kidney damage, lypodstrophy, CMV, and a host of other situations that I can't even imagine being able to deal with much less function with. And this is all before they go out the door to societies which treat these people as criminals and lepers for having a disease that knows no creed, race, color, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, country of origin, religion, or even fashion sense.
On this day remember that this disease will not go away unless we get it out in the open and work together to find a way to combat it..... together we stand, divided we will fall.
*Climbs down off soapbox, slight bow and exits stage left*