February 28, 2011
Here's a quick look at a few HIV/AIDS stories recently reported in the media:
"End of needle exchange marks loss of a bulwark in D.C.'s AIDS fight" (From The Washington Post)
On Feb. 25, needle exchange in our nation's capital received a terrible blow. Washington, D.C.'s largest needle exchange organization, Prevention Works, closed its doors to the public because of serious financial woes. For more than 12 years, Prevention Works had been distributing free needles -- in fact, it provided roughly one third of the free needles in the city, distributing about 100,000 sterile syringes to 2,200 people last year. Until three years ago, it was the only organization in D.C. that was doing this type of work.
Clearly, it will be missed.
To emphasize Prevention Works' impact, Petula Dvorak, The Washington Post's metro columnist, interviewed some of Prevention Works' clients to capture their reactions to the organization shutting down. She also pondered what the city's next step will be in addressing its HIV/AIDS epidemic.
It has been reported that the D.C. health department will be working with other providers to make sure that Prevention Works' clients receive their free needle services. But time will tell if that ends up happening -- and if those clients will trust other organizations in the city enough to seek help from them.
Related articles: D.C.'s leading provider of clean needles to drug addicts to close Feb. 25 (The Washington Post); Prevention Works! to Close at the End of This Month (TheBody.com)
"One-third HIV cases in age group 15-24: UNICEF report" (From Sify News)
Of the 33 million HIV/AIDS cases reported worldwide every year, around one third are among people 15 to 24 years old, according to a new report conducted by UNICEF entitled "The State of the World's Children." And the news gets worse. Sify News reports:
According to UNICEF's annual flagship report on the adolescents (10-19 years) in the world, the risk of HIV infection is considerably higher among adolescent females and young women than their male counterparts of the same age group. ...
According to the UNAIDS, there are about 7,400 new infections diagnosed every day, with about 40 percent of those being in the 15-24 age group.
Only 30 percent males and 19 percent females have correct knowledge about the disease, the report said.
UNICEF says that countries should put more money into policies and programs to better protect adolescent rights, especially those tackling poverty, health disparities and inequality.
Reports such as this highlight the dire need for prevention, attention and money to be aimed at young people. However, given society's disapproving attitude toward teens having sex -- especially here in the U.S. -- how realistic is it that we will see actual structural change?
Related article: UNICEF: Countries should invest more money, attention in adolescents (The Canadian Press)
"AIDS 2012: Preparations Underway for US to Host Conference" (From Voice of America)
While the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) is more than a year away, the conference's organizer, the International AIDS Society (IAS), has announced that it has opened an office in Washington D.C., the home of the event. AIDS 2012 will be the first IAS conference held in the U.S. since 1990. In 2010, President Obama lifted the federal ban that made it illegal for HIV-positive foreigners to enter the U.S.
Washington, D.C., was chosen for a symbolic reason. The IAS president and conference co-chair, Dr. Elly Katabira, told the press, "The epidemic in the U.S. and in particular Washington, D.C., is not very different from other highly affected countries in the sub-Saharan region and other regions of the world. So, coming here would give us an opportunity, and also Washington, D.C., an opportunity, to share the experiences, learn from each other, mistakes and so on."
In a press release, IAS also unveiled the conference logo, but has yet to determine a theme for the conference.
AIDS 2012 will be held from July 22 through July 27, 2012. More than 20,000 delegates from nearly 200 countries are expected to attend the conference next summer.
Related Article: International AIDS Society and AIDS 2012 partners join District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray to announce plans for collaboration as city prepares to host XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) (IAS press release)
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
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