A suffering multitude
Aids which stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is the final stage of HIV infection. Those who suffer from HIV do not ultimately have to end up with AIDS. Those who have AIDS have very low CD4 cell count. If not diagnosed and treated in time, it will result to death since the body is exposed to attack by all types of diseases due to low immunity.
Gays and bisexual men of all races are the most severely affected by HIV. Statistics show that 1 million people are living with HIV in the United States with 15.8% being unaware of their state of health. About 1 in 4 new infections is among youth aged 13-24. These also are not aware and are therefore at a very high risk of spreading it to others.
50,000 new HIV infections are recorded every year. This is to mean that despite the high number of people suffering from AIDS, not enough awareness has been created to curb the spread of the disease, which has no cure. Mostly African Americans continue to be affected.
In 2011, 49,273 people were diagnosed with HIV in the United States. 32,052 were diagnosed with AIDS. Despite the government’s efforts to provide free medical care and health benefits to those who suffer from the disease, a high number still does not access medical care for their own reasons. A contributing factor may be denial. Due to this, deaths have totaled to 636,000 with 15,529 dying in 2010. Since the epidemic began, 260,800 blacks have died with an AIDS diagnosis.
It is saddening that despite the fact that the US was first to discover the presence of the disease in 1981, several Americans have continued to die due to the illness. High numbers in the 1980s were in California and New York and were said to be gay men. At the end of 1981, up to 5 to 6 new cases were being reported each day.
From the beginning, AIDS was associated with a high level of stigma since those who had the disease were also facing a high rate of stigmatization; gays and those using intravenous drugs. It had not yet been proven that the major way of transmission was by sexual contact but it was highly suspected. In March 1987, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of AZT as the first antiretroviral drug to be used in the treatment of AIDS.
Ryan White, a child who had acquired AIDS from a blood transfusion to treat his condition; hemophilia was not allowed to attend public school due to fears that he was going to spread it to other students. Afterwards when he was allowed to go to school, he faced hostility from both students and teachers yet through current scientific research, it was not even his fault to contract the disease. Unfortunately, he died in 1990.
With time, more effective drugs have been invented and have prolonged life for those suffering from AIDS. Fewer deaths have been reported in the past years. The government has continued to create awareness about the disease as well as formation of organizations such as The Global Fund, United Nations AIDS Organization and The Elton Jones AIDS Organization are just but examples.
Scientists are trying all they can to discover the cure for AIDS. Before it is invented, it is our duty as a nation to provide all manner of support to the sufferers of this disease as well as the medical centre by volunteering to work for organizations. Fighting stigma is also another way of supporting AIDS patients. All it takes is time and commitment and all the hostility will end.