While experiencing slight declines, death rates among women, people of color remain troubling
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today delivered exciting news of a 19 percent decline in total U.S. AIDS deaths, confirming that the historic 13 percent drop in AIDS deaths reported on earlier this year was not a one time only occurrence. AIDS Action welcomes today's news and we are grateful that women - a population for which the CDC did not earlier report a decline in AIDS deaths - now too are experiencing slight decreases in AIDS deaths. It would appear that this good news is directly linked to access to quality health care and improved AIDS treatments. The good news further validates the urgency to improve access to health care and other services for all Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and the continued need to invest in research efforts to discover a cure, a vaccine, and even more effective treatments to arrest replication of this terrible virus.
As the CDC data indicate, the fact remains that there is not equal access to the continuum of care people with HIV/AIDS require to stay alive and healthy. Thus, AIDS continues to ravage communities of color and women - populations which represent the fastest growing groups of new AIDS cases. According to the CDC statistics released today, there is a significant difference between the decline in AIDS deaths among men (22 percent) and women (7 percent). The CDC also reports that AIDS deaths among African Americans and Latinos dropped 10- and 16 percent, respectively, versus a 28 percent decline among whites.
The statistics released today underscore the need for a concerted national effort to remedy the inequities that exist in access to federal HIV prevention programs and health care services - 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. HIV prevention must communicate the unvarnished truth about AIDS across social and cultural lines. All prevention weapons at our disposal, including needle exchange programs, must be used to curb HIV transmission. The federal government must adequately fund HIV prevention, care and research programs. And the Clinton administration must fulfill Vice President Gore's pledge to expand Medicaid eligibility so that more people with HIV, especially women and people of color, can obtain state-of-the-art care.
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.
AIDS Action is the nation's leading AIDS advocacy organization, representing all Americans affected by HIV/AIDS, and over 1,400 community-based organizations that serve them.
For information, contact:
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009
202-986-1300, extension 3042