Why we should care about AIDS

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1.78      Per second.
107     Per minute.
2,563      Per day.
935,568 Per year.

    That's how many people die of AIDS. A blink, a smile, a yellow light turning to red, a silent moment in a conversation. That's how long two people with AIDS have left to live.     
    Scientific research on HIV and AIDS has reduced transmissions and exposure by making society aware of contamination hazards such as blood transfusion, unprotected sex and sharing of needles. Research has also helped doctors and nurses reduce exposure and infection in hospitals and emergency situations.
    The epidemic economically affects entire countries. In Africa, 75 percent of the people infected are women. Some unknowingly give birth to HIV-positive babies. When a person gets infected, family members have to care for them. These caretakers are children, teachers, mothers, factory workers, fathers, agricultural workers and government officials who have to quit their jobs.
    Most countries fail in educating their citizens of the problem. Some people think that AIDS affects only Africa. In 2005, Brazil led all countries in South America with 610,000 reported HIV/ AIDS cases.
    In 2007, South and Southeast Asia reported 4 million existing cases and 345,000 new cases, but the problem is not limited to those regions. Furthermore, in 2007, New York accounted for 190,000 cases. Los Angeles had 56,000 cases and Miami 54,000 with an increase in numbers.
    We can throw around numbers to create a global scale for the disease. However, what is the point if you know the consequences and practice safe sex? People may think, "Oh! This can't happen to me." These are the people who unknowingly spread the disease.
    There are also skeptics who think donated money goes directly to bureaucrats. When you deal with large numbers of money and people in different places of the world there is always that chance. However, as humanitarian organizations ask for money, they must prove how they helped people with AIDS. Governments and individuals no longer give their money blindly.
    Last year alone, the (PRODUCT) RED campaign raised $11 million for the Global Fund. This organization is a partnership among Converse, Hallmark, Microsoft and Dell, Gap, Emporio Armani, Motorola and Apple. Those companies donate part of the profits from each (PRODUCT) RED item sold to the Global Fund, which in turn, funds projects to advance and educate people in third-world countries.
    With nations adding the AIDS issue to their agendas, the public is making an effort to learn more about the disease. Unfortunately, there are still 38 million people who have AIDS and more people are being infected each day. In some places, 57 percent of the AIDS-related deaths are among 18-to-24-year-olds.     
    Even the smallest donation helps. Antiretroviral medication used to treat people living with HIV/AIDS costs $140 per patient per year.

That's 38 cents a day.
    How can you help? You can buy from the (PRODUCT) RED line, donate, you don't even have to send money. Voice your concerns at www.one.org. Type in your name and e-mail and the organization will send a letter to your senator stating you support a cure for AIDS and the end of hunger.
    I've experienced my grandmother dying of cancer due to smoking. I saw her coughing blood and worse. She told me if she'd known about the consequences, she would have thought twice about picking up a cigarette. If writing about the people who are suffering in Africa because of this disease can touch someone and raise awareness, I will consider this trip an accomplishment.
    As journalists we are the historians of society. We educate and make the public aware of issues prevalent around the world.
    AIDS is no longer a same-sex issue. Too many people are dying from AIDS.  Being uniformed or simply believing yourself to be immune are two of the major causes of the spread of this disease.  No one is immune.  A neighbor, a friend, a lover, and even a family member are all at risk.
    The time to act is now. How much have we lost?
321    
    The number of people who died from AIDS while you read this paper.



 



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