Throughout the world, people have been suffering for decades from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It is a non-discriminatory virus, which affects every class, race, and sex, making this a global issue that should spark everyone’s interest. Although scientific medicine has focused a large amount of resources on the treatment, prevention, and cure of AIDS and HIV, it is still killing thousands of people worldwide every year.
The first case of AIDS in the United States was in 1981 (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2014). Yet, there are many people in today’s society that are unaware of the risks involved in contracting this life-threatening illness. It is contracted through the bodily exchange of fluids, so the two most prevalent contraction activities are sexual encounters and intravenous drug use.
In 2013, the United States had 1.2 million living with AIDS (HIV and AIDS in the United States of America, 2015). The number of people living with HIV has actually increased, however this is a positive statistic in the fight against AIDS because it means people are living longer with the virus. This is due to treatment options, which are becoming more readily available.
Famous individuals who have contracted HIV have helped to pioneer the war on HIV and AIDS. One famous individual is Magic Johnson, former NBA player. He is a perfect example that HIV does not discriminate, but he has used his fame and large donation capacity to help in the efforts for a cure.
Although the virus does not discriminate based on demographics, the United States has a much smaller infection rate than other parts of the world, especially Africa. Therefore, the virus has unintentionally discriminated somewhat because of social demographics. Civilized societies have more access to education, treatment, and less exposure to others who are infected. They also have the money for the treatment, which can be costly. “For wealthier people in industrialized countries, there is a better chance to afford the very expensive treatment that is available” (Stah, 2009).
In the United States, a struggle to administering HIV treatment is that people don’t know they have the virus. Often, if they expect they’ve put themselves at risk, they postpone treatment while they wait for symptoms. Six out of 10 young people infected in the United States don’t know they have it (Herzog, 2012). One strategy people are trying to use in the reduction of testing is to reduce the stigma surrounding the illness (Stangl, 2013). Education is also important. A surprising group of newly infected HIV patients emerged at nursing homes, where education was not considered necessary. Education has helped to stall what was becoming a rapidly growing AIDS population.
Those who have contracted HIV need to understand what activities put them at risk so they do not put others at risk. They also need to understand the importance of testing if they’ve been at risk because nobody is immune.
There are many strategies to drop the HIV contraction rate and to vaccinate, cure, or treat people threatened with AIDS. Current strategies have decreased the contraction rate, increased the quality of life of those who have contracted the virus, and the strategies have increased the life expectancy of those with HIV or AIDS. Most people now live healthy long lives if treated for HIV on time. The key to successful timely treatment is getting HIV access points of education out to the public. This reduces stigma, increases knowledge, and highlights the benefits of early detection.
The US president has also created an Emergency Plan for AIDS relief, which has had a positive effect on children and adults suffering from the illness. It is anticipated that these efforts would not only increase palliative care for the AIDS victims but also decrease the contraction of HIV from person to person. The emergency plan also provides emotional support to people living with AIDS or HIV and their families.
The United States is not the only nation helping with the fight against AIDS and HIV. Organizations around the world have joined the fight. The United Nations (UNAIDS) program on AIDS/HIV is a corporation formed to stimulate support, treatment, and prevention of HIV/AIDS around the world. The Non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation includes AIDS and HIV in its global health policy. In 2001, The Pan-Carribean Parnership against HIV/AIDS was formed (Summary of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, 2001). The list is long of world supporters of this endeavor.
Today, many people living with or at risk for HIV or AIDS don’t have the resources for cure, prevention, or treatment. Throughout the world, approximately 36.9 million people have HIV, and 22 million people aren’t aware of their treatment options. 1.8 of those are children (Summary of the Declaration, 2001).
In 2014, 15.8 million HIV positive people were treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART). Current studies are suggesting that these treatments should be started earlier, before the virus builds up replication momentum. ART not only treats HIV, but it also reduces the transmission rate of the virus (Temprano ANRS 12136 Study Group, 2015). Again, the challenge is having the resources to get treatment to the masses, especially in third world countries.
The fight against HIV and AIDs is current and worldwide, but it is also a concern that needs to be paid attention to on a local level. In 2015, Indiana’s governor declared a state of emergency because of the growing number of HIV cases caused by intravenous drug use (Strathdee & Beyre, 2015).
People will likely always engage in activities that put themselves at risk for contraction of the virus, but education and treatment will help to fight on end the war on HIV and AIDS.