Monday, November 9, 2009

Putting the Positive in HIV+

One generally doesn't associate HIV/AIDS with good news - over a million Americans are estimated to be living with HIV, and worldwide an estimated 33 million people are living with HIV - but there's been some positive activity around this disease.

World AIDS Day will be next month on December 1, as usual. This year's theme is 'Universal Access and Human Rights.' Here're some good resources for helping to get the word out:
On October 30, President Obama reauthorized the Ryan White Act, which continues this invaluable federal program that provides funding and assistance to people with HIV/AIDS. You can read his full statement here.

One especially bright point was this excerpt, which announced the end of the unreasonable HIV/AIDS travel ban:

"Twenty-two years ago, in a decision rooted in fear rather than fact, the United States instituted a travel ban on entry into the country for people living with HIV/AIDS. Now, we talk about reducing the stigma of this disease -- yet we've treated a visitor living with it as a threat. We lead the world when it comes to helping stem the AIDS pandemic -- yet we are one of only a dozen countries that still bar people from HIV from entering our own country. If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it.

And that's why, on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year. Congress and President Bush began this process last year, and they ought to be commended for it. We are finishing the job. It's a step that will encourage people to get tested and get treatment, it's a step that will keep families together, and it's a step that will save lives."

Finally, just last week French researchers published the successful findings of a revolutionary gene therapy that used a disable version of HIV to treat a fatal brain disease. This development is amazingly exciting(/scary!), and a great example of making lemonade from the ultimate lemons.

There's still a ways to go in removing the stigma from HIV/AIDS and developing treatments, but by spreading information and raising awareness, we all contribute to an eventual cure.

(And we still encourage you to get a Red Ribbon specialty license plate to help raise awareness and support the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolinas.)

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