Industrialized nations must take worldwide AIDS epidemic seriously

Posted: Monday, July 15, 2002

Those who believed the AIDS epidemic would level off are sadly mistaken. Twenty years later, the deadly disease is still on the rise. ...

Among the few changes in 20 years is that the disease can no longer be dismissed as just a gay or intravenous-drug-abuser disease. But that's been true for a long time. AIDS is in the mainstream. Heterosexual women are well on their way to becoming the fastest-growing segment of HIV and AIDS cases. Therefore, children also are at extreme risk.

Although the face of the disease is changing, funding remains low. Congress allocated only $500 million for AIDS-related funds outside the United States over a five-year period.

It's a pathetic amount to help reduce an epidemic in poor countries like in Africa, where the disease has already killed 20 million and infected about 29 million. It undoubtedly has the might to wipe out the whole continent and continue to spread throughout the world.

More money must be allocated to fight the virus worldwide. The most impoverished areas, including the southern part of Africa and south and southeast Asia, are where the disease is able to ravage communities and take scores of human lives with it. A united front, with dollars to back it up, should be a global priority. ...

The effort will pay off if our government and other industrialized nations put stigma and discrimination aside and take the AIDS epidemic seriously by funding prevention, treatment and education with the same zeal applied to other issues -- issues that pale in comparison to the threat AIDS poses to human lives.

-- Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News

July 9

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