World AIDS Day focuses on solutions

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 3, 2004

Since the 1980s, AIDS has moved across the world, looking for vulnerable populations. The epidemic killed thousands of gay and bisexual men and intravenous drug users in this country before moving to sub-Saharan Africa. India may be the next ground zero for the scourge.

What if the world, including Alabama, focused on the disease and skipped the stereotype associated with it? Instead of harshley judging a population that contracts, AIDS, how about an honest but uncomfortable conversation about solutions?

We’d like to encourage more conversations, especially among the population for whom this subject is often taboo.

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We know that in our society, to openly discuss sex is taboo, but that is the only way that men, women and children will stop dying from this virus.

Think about this.

More than 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV or have AIDS. More than 20 million have died from the disease.

In Minnesota, over 12,000 people are infected with HIV and/or have AIDS, according to the state Department of Health. It is true that recent drug breakthroughs

now allow Alabamians with AIDS to live longer than ever before.

The cost for that longer life, about $25,000 per year.

You can't put a dollar figure on a human life as someone recently noted, so the real cost is far greater than the medical costs.

Every community is diminished by the illness of its members.

And no community prospers through ignorance of a sexually transmitted disease and an unwillingness to face hard truths.

The message that was true in the 1980s is still true in 2004.

The only way this disease will ever be defeated is through education and knowledge.

You can't get either when you remain silent.