Thursday, December 01, 2005

World AIDs Day

Did you know today was World AIDs Day? Here are some corrections of some common myths that I received in an email from my local American Medical Student Association chapter.

Our Future, Our Crisis. Fight Global AIDS.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has already claimed more than 25 million lives and
another 40 million people are currently estimated to be living with
HIV/AIDS worldwide. Over 8,000 people die everyday. Whether you choose
to practice here in the US or abroad, as a future physician it is
guaranteed that you will face HIV/AIDS. AMSA would like to help you
prepare by eliminating some common myths.

--- MYTH ONE ---
Myth: The AIDS crisis in the developing world has no impact on American
interests. Citizens and politicians have little to gain by fighting the
Fact: Halting of the spread of HIV/AIDS will benefit Americans in the
areas of public health, the economy, and security:

Ever-increasing travel will transport infectious diseases such as HIV
across national boundaries at ever-increasing rates. AIDS reduces
profitability of multinational corporations operating in the developing
world due to illness-related absenteeism and worker deaths. AIDS
significantly reduces the GDP of countries in many parts of the world,
weakens markets, and makes trading partners less reliable. World economic
growth and the American economy suffer as a result. The CIA has
officially designated the global AIDS pandemic as a threat to US national

--- MYTH TWO ---
Myth: AIDS is mostly an African problem.
Fact: Of the 42 million people around the world who live with HIV/AIDS,
70% are in sub-Saharan Africa. But AIDS is not an African problem:

HIV/AIDS exists and is spreading in Africa in a socioeconomic context
created by western colonialism, western trade, and economic policies.
HIV/AIDS continues to spread in the rest of the world, especially in
communities within countries where poverty, inequality, and conflict are
prevalent. Eastern Europe and Central Asia have the fastest rates of
spread, followed by countries in Asia and the Pacific, the Caribbean, and
Latin America.

--- MYTH THREE ---
Myth: To stop the spread of HIV, people simply need to give up promiscuous
sex and drug use.
Fact: Socioeconomic structures around the world constrain many people's
ability to make free choices regarding the behaviors that put them at risk
for contracting HIV/AIDS. Economic insecurity, gender and racial
inequalities, labor migration, and armed conflict all limit people's
ability to avoid exposure to the virus.

--- MYTH FOUR ---
Myth: AIDS treatment in the developing world is impossible because
antiretroviral drugs are too expensive and because developing countries
lack the sophisticated infrastructure necessary to deliver the drugs.
Fact: ARVs should be a cornerstone in fighting AIDS in the developing

Treatment for the poor is no longer prohibitively expensive, due to recent
sharp drops in drug prices. Both generics and cheaper brand names have
become available. The enormous economic costs of no treatment outweigh
the costs of treatment. Evidence shows that treating patients with ARVs
can save health systems money and relevant infrastructure is actually
present in many regions.

--- MYTH FIVE ---
Myth: Since resources are limited, officials should concentrate on
problems that effect large segments of the population, such as nutrition,
clean water, maternal & child health, and immunizations, rather than
expensive and complex AIDS treatment that helps only a few.
Fact: AIDS treatment would have far-reaching benefits, since the disease
has such devastating social, economic, and general health effects:

AIDS kills primarily young adults in their prime working years; these
deaths are devastating to economies. Agriculture is gravely threatened by
HIV/AIDS. As workers die, food production falls, the nutritional status of
the population is undermined, and all aspects of health are affected.
Young children are often left parentless, leading to hunger, poor health,
lost educational opportunities, economic and sexual exploitation, and loss
of future prospects. AIDS fuels the spread of other infectious diseases,
such as tuberculosis and treatment will help reduce pressure on health
facilities by reducing opportunistic infections.


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