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Declining Aids Deaths Bolster Hope, But Do Not Signal End Of AIDS Fight

AIDS trends among women, blacks cause for concern

February 27, 1997

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today delivered two pieces of good news regarding the AIDS epidemic in 1996 - a significant decline in AIDS deaths for the first time in the epidemic, and a slowing trend in the number of Americans diagnosed with AIDS. It would appear that this good news is directly linked to access to quality health care, improved AIDS treatments, and stable housing. The good news further validates the urgency to improve access to health care for all Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and the need to invest in research efforts to discover a cure, vaccine, and even more effective treatments to arrest replication of this terrible virus.

Unfortunately, the bad news is that there is not equal access to the continuum of care people with HIV/AIDS require to remain alive and healthy. Thus, as in 1995, AIDS continues to ravage communities of color and women - populations which again represent the fastest growing groups of new AIDS cases. According to the CDC, in 1996 African Americans accounted for a larger proportion of AIDS cases - 41 percent - than whites for the first time. Additionally, women did not enjoy a decline in AIDS death rates, but instead experienced a 3 percent increase. The proportion of AIDS cases among women also increased so that in 1996 women accounted for 20 percent of newly reported AIDS cases.

The statistics released today, welcome and grim alike, underscore the need for a concerted national effort to remedy the appalling inequities that exist in access to federal HIV prevention programs and health care Ä inequities which significantly contribute to the spread of HIV. Increased efforts are needed to educate all Americans, but particularly women and people of color, about the reality of HIV transmission. Increased efforts are needed to communicate the unique manifestations of HIV infection in women. HIV prevention messages must involve open and honest communication and must take into account social, cultural and gender issues that are all too often ignored in prevention efforts. Better research on the nature of HIV disease in women and people of color is critical, as are appropriate treatments. And, finally, the federal government must fulfill its responsibility to safeguard the public health, both by adequately funding HIV prevention, care and research programs and by guaranteeing adequate and equal access to quality health care for all Americans. The Medicaid program, which today provides health care services, including prescription drugs, to over 53 percent of Americans with HIV/AIDS, must be maintained and strengthened.

Our nation is at a crucial moment in the fight against AIDS. As the numbers indicate, we have made incredible progress on several fronts. However, so much more remains to be done. AIDS Action calls upon the public health community, with crucial support from the federal government, to act quickly and assertively to ensure that the new hope touches the lives of all people affected by HIV/AIDS.

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For more information, contact:
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300, extension 3053
202-986-1345 (fax)
202-332-9614 (tty)
E-Mail: HN3384@handsnet.org

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council.
 
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