39.5 million people have HIV

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Sandra Porter
Random remembrance #1. December 1st is world AIDS day. On December 1st, I will mourn for my former colleagues, students and acquaintances who've died from AIDS. Random random reminder #2. Bloggers, Ron Hudson from the International Carnival of Pozivities will be putting together stories about AIDS and HIV. The next carnival isn't until Dec. 10th, but you can still submit. Random blog comment #3: After the last International Carnival of Pozivities, I had a very odd comment on my article. One commenter wrote:
Uhhhhh. Can you name a society that doesn't acknowledge that STD's spread via unprotected sex?
Random musings #4. Of the people, that I know, who died from AIDS, quite a few were infected before we understood how to prevent the spread. In the U.S., at least, it seems that a large number of adults are aware of the connection between unprotected sex (or dirty needles) and HIV. But, the evidence suggests many people in the world missed getting the memo. Today, I read in the Miami Herald that the epidemic is still growing and approximately 39.5 million people are infected with HIV, worldwide. According to the Herald:
AIDS has claimed 2.9 million lives this year and another 4.3 million people became infected with HIV, according to the U.N.'s AIDS epidemic update report, published on Tuesday. Spread of the disease was most noticeable in East Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since the first case was reported in 1981, making it one of the most destructive illnesses in history.
Sub-Saharan Africa - with 63 percent or 24.7 million of the world's infected people - bears the highest burden, but in East Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia there are 21 percent more people living with HIV than two years ago. The virus spread fastest in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with a nearly 70 percent increase in new infections over the past two years. In South and Southeast Asia, the number of new infections has grown by 15 percent since 2004, while it rose by 12 percent in North Africa and the Middle East. In Latin America, the Caribbean and North America it remained roughly stable.
Never before have so many women been infected with HIV. There are 17.7 million women worldwide carrying the virus, an increase of more than 1 million compared with two years earlier. The proportion of women among the infected is particularly striking in sub-Saharan Africa where they account for 59 percent of the people with HIV/AIDS.
Thankfully, the Herald also reported the information that people need if they are to avoid spreading or contracting HIV. It would have nice to see this information at the beginning of the story:
Unprotected sex in prostitution and between men, as well as unsafe drug injecting represent the highest risks for HIV infection and the main reasons for the spread of the disease in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America, it said.
That's it. AIDS is a preventable disease. It makes me wonder which puzzle piece we will learn first. How to take our heads out of the sand and entice people to protect themselves? or how to cure AIDS? Reference: Eliane Engler. "U.N. says 39.5 million people have HIV" Miami Herald, Nov 21, 2006.

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