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HIV/AIDS in the USA...World AIDS Day
Nov 25, 2006

As World AIDS Day approaches, we are hearing much about the pandemic in Africa and other resource-poor areas of the world. What about the U.S.? Do we have this problem under control? No one seems to talk about AIDS here anymore. Can you give us the scoop Dr. Bob?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

I wish I could report we had HIV under control here, but in fact that is not the case. In fact many of the commitments the Bush Administration promised in 2001 at the U.N. General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS turned out to be all bluster and no substance. For instance, in the U.S. we have a huge and ever increasing racial and economic disparity in HIV infection rates: African Americans account for half of the new HIV infections in the U.S., despite representing only 13% of the U.S. population. AIDS remains the leading cause of death for African American women aged 24-34 years. In fact, the proportion of total HIV cases attributed to all women in the U.S. is increasing faster than in any other country!!!

HIV infection rates (incidence) have been declining in many regions of the world; however, not here in the U.S.! We have had approximately 40,000 new cases per year, every year, for the past 15 years!!! This is quite shameful, considering HIV/AIDS is a totally preventable disease! How could this be? Personally I, along with many other experts, lay much of the blame on several factors:

1. A poorly coordinated strategy at the federal, state and local agencies charged with providing HIV prevention, testing and treatment services.

2. Abandonment of proven methods that prevent HIV transmission, including needle exchange and frank sexual education.

3. Inadequate funding of major HIV treatment centers and research efforts.

Given the objections of Dubya, the religious right and political conservatives to rectifying any of these problems, unfortunately I am not hopeful we'll have HIV/AIDS under control here or anywhere for quite some time. Also, as the wealthiest nation, it is our moral duty to help strengthen efforts to contain HIV everywhere, or we will have stopped it nowhere!!!

Dr. Bob



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