Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Why Worldwide AIDS/HIV Care Matters

About ten years ago (or more, who knows), I first saw "And the Band Played On." (I know it was a book first, but live with it.) Since then, I have seen HIV/AIDS not as a personal health issue, but as a global health issue. If we let this disease--which is preventable--work to annihilate an entire continent, we are fools.

Worldwide HIV/AIDS Care matters because it is a humanity issue. The fact that for so many years we let this disease spread unfettered because it was stereotypically linked to one group of people speaks volumes about where we are as a society. Though we cannot change that, we can prevent it from happening again. Whereas white gay men were the social pariahs of the 80s, the whole continent of Africa has taken that title for the 90s and today. To allow such ignorance to blossom and thrive is beyond acceptable.
If humanity isn't a good enough reason for you, know that worldwide HIV/AIDS Care matters because it is an economic issue. HIV/AIDS may seem to be a distant issue to most, but it can impact the economy of the world greatly. A 2003 study by the United Nations shows how devestating a role HIV/AIDS can play on the world's pocketbook. Even the World Bank agrees. It may be hard for us as Americans to see past the impact of our own self-made financial crises, but it is necessary in order to create a complete solution to the problem.

Don't just take it from me, though. Here are some great resources to review to better know the issue:

Todd Heywood from RH Reality Check did a great piece about the candidates' positions on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. You should read it here.

If you need more information to be convinced that HIV/AIDS is a worldwide issue, you can check out UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.

Also, check out the AIDS Law Project, an organization that "focuses on removing obstacles that prevent people with HIV/AIDS from having access to adequate health care and treatment in both the private and public sectors, from contesting unfair treatment and discrimination or that deny people with HIV/AIDS access to employment, employee benefits, insurance, education and other services."

We must work hard so thatHIV/AIDS is not our generation's enormously unpopular and unreturnable gift to the world.

So what does this have to do with the election? Well, back in 2001, on his first day of office, George W. Bush cut family planning funding around the globe. In the years that have passed, progress has been derailed everywhere--home and abroad. Organizations cannot get the aid they need because of "abstinence only" policies, which means people cannot get the prevention they need--or even information about the prevention they need. Instead, we allow a preventable yet incurable disease to infect more people as a result. Such boneheaded policies are just one example of the reason why we need to look at the candidates' positions on reproductive health, but in particular and on the larger scale, at its impact on global health.

When you vote for a candidate, you're voting for that person's policies. When that person's policies include bad health choices, the world suffers. The choice is simple--do you want someone who supports actions such as Bush's Global Gag Rule? Or do you want something different that works to help people?



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