AIDS remains world’s greatest health crisis | TahoeDailyTribune.com

AIDS remains world’s greatest health crisis

Don Regis-Bilar

All one need know about AIDS statistics is that the disease has become the greatest health crisis in human history. More people have died from AIDS than in all of the wars of the 20th Century.

It is also true that the infection rates in the United States, as nearly everywhere else on Earth, continue to rise year after year. Young people are most at risk, and the impact of the death toll, particularly in countries that provide cheap labor benefiting the United States, will affect the world economy for generations.

There is no cure or vaccine, and if you are lucky enough to receive “life-sustaining AIDS drugs,” you then have a 50/50 chance they will work.

The vast majority of the global HIV population is malnourished, under-medicated and in unremitting pain. In world society, women, for all of the traditional discriminatory reasons, are at far greater risk than men.

It is easy to blame pharmaceutical companies in which – not unique to AIDS – profit supersedes people’s needs. Currently, U.S. drug companies are lobbying for trade laws forbidding other nations from producing cheaper AIDS medicines.

Of the United States’ $15 billion global AIDS relief package, one-third is committed to abstinence programs. Those who oppose such programs are called the “condom crowd” or “promiscuity pushers.”

But the problems go beyond politics and profit as AIDS – the most stigmatized illness of our time – is no longer a popular cause. When was the last time you were asked for a buck to fight AIDS at your local grocery store?

What is important to remember on this World AIDS Day is no one owns AIDS.

AIDS owns us.

Until we rise up from our indifference, AIDS will continue to be the greatest threat to humankind.

– For 20 years, South Lake Tahoe resident Don Regis-Bilar has been raising awareness and funds for AIDS. He can be reached at (530) 544-6959 or dregisbilar@aol.com


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