Friday, December 01, 2006

World Aids Day...

Don't forget...


Today is World Aids Day. The idea of the world-wide day of awareness is to encourage the international community to step up to the plate and fight the disease.

The theme of this World Aids Day is accountability. There will be international observances calling for nations of the world, and international organizations to keep their committmens in fighting AIDS.

Clearly, the AIDS pandemic is at its devastating worst in the poorest areas of the world. The expense of getting AIDS treatment drugs, combined with lack of proper medical facilities, labratory testing facilities, and proper basics such as nourishment and hygiene make fighting AIDS in developing portions of the world extremely difficult. But it is clearly not a lost cause.

A study to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine today reveals that a holistic approach - even in the poorest areas - can be successful. The study shows that low-cost treatment programs can dramatically increase survival rates in poor countries.

Typically only 30 percent of AIDS patients survive for one year in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere where the HIV infection rate is about 3 percent among adults.

But integrating drug care -- usually generic drugs -- with nutritional support, tuberculosis treatment, counseling and other public health programs brought the survival rate up to 87 percent for adults and 98 percent for children, said Fitzgerald of the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

That is a rather staggering improvement - especially for the children. And - it's economically efficient:

Fitzgerald and his colleagues said the annual cost of giving a three-drug combination to fight the AIDS virus was about $500 for generic medicines and $750 for brand-name drugs. "We estimated the overall cost per patient per
year (including medicine) as about $1,600," they said.

If you are able to spend a paltry $1,600 and re-gain a functioning memeber of the community, who is able to go back to work...or if a child, is able to grow up and contribute to the community - that is a bargain.

But of course, the poorest regions of Africa, central America, and Asia are not the only places where there is suffering from this disease. Even here, in one of the wealthiest nations of the world, people struggle with AIDS - and at all levels, the poor, middle class, and even the wealthy. AIDS is no respecter of income. And even though many here in America are able to take advantage of drugs and treatment which enables them to live strong, vibrant lives - there still is no cure...which I was reminded of all to closely this year. Much has been done, but there is so much left to do.

A few more links:
US Dept. of State
Kaiser Family Foundation

Stop AIDS. Keep the promise.

From December 1, 2005.