Leading HIV Care Group: On World AIDS Day, Remember the U.S.
December 1, 2005
"This year's theme -- "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise" -- is a sharp reminder of the precious lives that continue to be lost, and the great work that remains to be done." -- Howard Grossman, M.D.
Howard Grossman, M.D., the executive director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine, released the following statement on World AIDS Day, which is recognized each year on December 1, 2005.
As we commemorate this 17th World AIDS Day, we are reminded that HIV/AIDS continues to cost millions of lives, both in the United States and abroad. Our public health infrastructure for HIV prevention, care, and treatment is heavily burdened and overwhelmed, and real efforts to treat the disease and prevent its spread are being hampered by unscientific, ideology-based policies.
Despite the fact that this is the most devastating epidemic in history, HIV does not make news on most days anymore. World AIDS Day allows us to turn a spotlight on the continuing need for action, if we have any hope at all of stopping the devastation.
The first case of AIDS was diagnosed nearly 25 years ago. But here on December 1st, 2005, hundreds of cases will be diagnosed today alone. This year's theme -- "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise" -- is a sharp reminder of the lives that continue to be lost, and the great work that remains to be done.
We've become complacent in the United States. We have come to think of this disease as a Third World issue. Serious as the epidemic is abroad, we need to remember that AIDS continues to take a deadly toll on many of our own communities, just as it has in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the Institute of Medicine Report of 2004 (Public Financing and Delivery of HIV/AIDS Care), there are a staggering 233,000 Americans who know they are HIV positive, are eligible for antiretroviral treatment but who still do not receive it. The CDC reported in 2005 that there are as many as 1.1 million persons living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. There are 18,000 deaths per year in the US and there are 40,000 new infections per year here.
AAHIVM urges the US government to adopt a strategy based on real scientific and public health research. The current strategy of insisting on abstinence-only education and penalizing groups that advocate sound policies of condom use, safe sex and family planning is only serving to add to the spread of the epidemic.
The American Academy of HIV Medicine was founded in 2000 with the expressed mission to improve the quality of HIV care in the U.S. On this World AIDS Day, we join with the rest of the HIV/AIDS community in acknowledging the continuing global AIDS epidemic, and demanding recognition by our national leaders of the devastating scope of the disease here in our own country.
The Academy is an independent organization of HIV specialists and others dedicated to promoting excellence in HIV/AIDS care. Through advocacy and education, the Academy is committed to supporting health care providers in HIV medicine and to ensuring better care for those living with AIDS and HIV disease.
As the largest independent organization of HIV frontline providers, the Academy's 2,000 members provide direct care to more than 340,000 HIV patients -- more than two thirds of the patients in active treatment for HIV disease.
This article was provided by American Academy of HIV Medicine.