Mapping Pathways is a multi-national project to develop and nurture a research-driven, community-led global understanding of the emerging evidence base around the adoption of antiretroviral-based prevention strategies to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The evidence base is more than results from clinical trials - it must include stakeholder and community perspectives as well.

28 November 2011

An AIDS Free Generation: Running Toward the Dream of a Lifetime

via The Chicago Tribune, by David Ernesto Munar

When I tested positive for HIV in 1994, I never would have imagined an AIDS-free generation to be possible in my lifetime.

I also didn't think I would live past 35.

And yet, I am 42 years old today and we have arrived at the precipice of that dream. With recent medical advances, and the promise of more soon to come, an AIDS-free generation is possible. Achieving this goal, as eloquently outlined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this month, would save millions of American dollars and countless lives around the world.

The question is whether we have the political and social will to make it a reality.

No one is talking about what the deficit-reduction talks or the attempts to dismantle health care reform mean for stopping AIDS in this country. Now is the time for that conversation. Cutting funding for HIV/AIDS services, treatment and research would be devastating to our progress in defeating this 30-year-old epidemic.

And the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act is necessary to provide access to treatment for the thousands in our country who are on waiting lists because they cannot afford life-saving medications.
We need our political leaders to lead. We stand at the precipice of the AIDS-free dream but we're stuck. If HIV/AIDS funding is cut through the deficit reductions, our progress could, in the haunting words of poet Langston Hughes, "dry up like a raisin in the sun."

Backing up, why have the AIDS conversation now?

HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence. The drugs are better and those who take them are living longer, relatively normal lives. So, what's the problem?

The reality is that more than 1 million people still live with HIV in the United States, and more than half of them do not receive regular medical care that could save their lives and curb new infections. The rate of infections remains unchanged. The cost for antiretroviral drugs is exorbitant, ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 a month.

In fact, government programs to help HIV-positive people obtain lifesaving HIV medications are hamstrung by dangerous, growing waiting lists across the country. As of earlier this month, more than 6,000 people in 12 states were on the waiting lists for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Illinois does not have a waiting list, but state legislators recently approved a change in the program that will make fewer people eligible for assistance.

And stigma and systemic injustices also fuel new HIV infections.

Read the rest.

[Content that is linked from other sources is for informational purposes and should not construe a Mapping Pathways position.]

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