Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009: Human Rights and Access to Treatment

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December every year and this forum since it's inception has been at the forefront of offering the latest information as well as break through concerning this ongoing health pandemic. For my self, this day causes me pause as I remember the countless friends, acquaintances, and those unknown but celebrated for their fight for life. Although WAD is an international day to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS around the world. The first World AIDS Day was celebrated on 1 December 1988. At that time, I was in full education mode attempting to stay updated on this disease that was sweeping across the landscape and continues to claim individuals daily. Yet as we reflect on those years of uncertainty, to date there have been new treatments, exciting research and affected individuals are discovering extended life within their regimens. This year’s theme for the day is “human rights and access to treatment”. The theme has been chosen to address the critical need to protect human rights and make HIV prevention, treatment, care and support accessible to all. Ironically this platform comes amidst the robust debate now percolating on Capitol Hill and on the hills of the recent health clinic held in Little Rock. In my opinion a public option within this corrosive health system must be considered and ultimately enacted to benefit all people. This nation can not continue to allow it's citizens to be rebuffed or mangled while in search of health care. Therefore, the theme acts as a call to countries to remove laws that discriminate against people living with HIV. UNAIDS and the World Health Organization released its annual AIDS Epidemic Update in November, indicating that 33.4 million people were living with HIV in 2008, up slightly from 2007. The higher figure is credited to increased availability to treatment allowing more people to live longer. Overall, the data indicates that new infections have dropped 17 percent over the past eight years. Despite areas of progress, children still account for 2.1 million of people living with HIV, although the number of deaths has declined. The number of children newly infected with HIV in 2008 was roughly 18% lower than in 2001. In Arkansas, the statistics show that infection rates are spiking within both the African American and Latino communities especially among Women and the 18-24 set. Complicating this paradigm comes funding shortfalls, dual infections, marginalized prevention messages and both covert as well as overt homophobia. As we remember those befallen, it's imperative that we continue to demand from our elected officials, health system, clergy and allies their unilateral support for those living with or affected by HIV/ AIDS. Get involved, Stay Educated, Become empowered. In closing, don't foget that you too can make a difference, so what are you gonna do....

No comments: