A look into HIV related issues

Poverty & HIV infection

According to a report from U.S. health officials, the poorer neighborhoods of America's cities harbour at least 1 in 50 heterosexual adults infected with HIV. These figures are more than elsewhere in the country. According to the research team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being poor and getting HIV are linked and this was regardless of race or ethnicity. This report will be read at the 18th International AIDS Conference being held this week in Vienna, Austria.

Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention said on Monday in a statement, “This study shows that we can't look at HIV in isolation from the environment in which people live…It also points to an urgent need to prioritize HIV prevention efforts in economically disadvantaged communities... Poverty may account for some of the [nationwide] racial/ethnic disparity.” He also said that there are other factors that link poverty with HIV some of these could be – limited access to health care, which can reduce the use of HIV testing and prevention services; drug abuse, which can increase risky sexual behavior; and high incarceration rates, which can adversely affect relationships.

Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention also said, “We need to reach everyone in that defined community with HIV prevention information and intervention, not just those at highest risk.” He pointed out that, “More than 1.1 million Americans are currently living with HIV and nearly 18,000 people AIDS still die each year in the United States.”

The study was lead by Dr. Paul Denning, a medical epidemiologist in CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. His team collected data on more than 9,000 heterosexual adults living in poorer sections of 23 American cities. These people participated in the 2006-2007 heterosexual section of the CDC's National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System, which monitors HIV risk, testing and prevention services. The results showed that 2.1% of the surveyed population had HIV. 2.4% of these below poverty line were infected with HIV versus 1.2 percent of those living above the poverty line. National average is 0.45 percent of the population making these percentages significantly high. There were no racial differences in prevalence. Prevalence was 2.1 percent for blacks, 2.1 percent for Hispanics and 1.7 percent for whites. This is also contrary to general nationwide findings that show that African Americans HIV rates are almost eight times higher than among whites and among Hispanics the rate is almost three times higher than whites

Anti HIV drug accessibility

This Monday the UN announced that 1.2 million more people last year received anti HIV drugs. So now a total of 5.2 million people had access to drugs to repress HIV. This announcement was made at the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna. WHO's assistant director General Hiroki Nakatani said, “This is the largest increase in people accessing treatment in a single year. It is an extremely encouraging development.” The number of infected has risen 12 times since 2003 but according to many experts only around 50% of the world's poor and badly infected people have access to the drugs.

This welcome news came after protests from various quarters that the G-8 nations were not doing anything to provide financial aid for HIV infected people to get a better access at these anti HIV drugs. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday also said that the progress in the 29-year war on AIDS could be reversed if countries retreated in their funding efforts. President Obama submitted a 2011 fiscal year request of 5.7 billion dollars for spending on AIDS, almost unchanged from last year and just 236 million dollars more than 2009. From 2002 to 2008 donations from rich economies for poor countries rose from 1.2 billion to 7.7 billion, but fell back last year to 7.6 billion, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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