Sunday, December 8, 2013

AIDS: The pandemic in our midst

I've written about pandemics before here and pointed out that they are on topic for this blog.  In May, it was to note that "history may not repeat, but it certainly does rhyme and also that resource depletion and environmental degradation aren't the only threats to civilization."  The next month, it was to remind my readers that "pandemics are like asteroid strikes; both combine science fiction with the collapse of civilization.  We need to be prepared for both of them."  In both entries, I was referring to infections like influenza, SARS, and bubonic plague, which spread, sicken, and kill quickly.  However, all of us have been living through a slow-motion plague for the past 35 years--HIV/AIDS.  As last Sunday was World AIDS Day, it's past time to recognize this dread disease here.

I'll begin with Discovery News, who posted Screening Room: How To Survive A Plague last month.

In the early, dark days of the AIDS crisis, the government was little help to those suffering from the newly discovered disease. So two groups took it upon themselves to spur politicians into action. In this week's DNews Screening room, Laci Green reviews the Oscar nominated documentary 'How To Survive a Plague' which chronicles their harrowing work.
Things have gotten somewhat better in the U.S. over the past 30 years, even if 2 million people die worldwide from the disease.  Follow over the jump for two stories from KPBS marking this year's World AIDS Day that I originally included in tonight's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Die, Selfish Gene!).

First, Aging With AIDS: San Diegans Living With Virus On The Rise.

On the 25th anniversary of World AIDS Day, we discuss the growing number of people living longer with the disease and the unique challenges they face as they age with AIDS.
Also read this related story: Aging With AIDS: San Diegans Living With Virus On The Rise.
By Marissa Cabrera, Peggy Pico, Alison St John
Monday, December 2, 2013
Sunday was the 25th World AIDS Day.

There is much to be thankful for in the development of new drugs to keep AIDS and HIV at bay, but what are the trends among those who continue to live with the disease decades after diagnosis?

Partly because of the effectiveness of the drugs, it turns out there is a growing number of people living in San Diego with an AIDS diagnosis who are over 50.

“Advances in medication and treatment have helped individuals with AIDS to live longer, healthier lives,” said Patrick Loose, Chief of San Diego County's Health and Human Services Agency’s HIV, STD and Hepatitis Branch.
Next, AIDS Memorial Quilt Visits UC San Diego For World AIDS Day.

Sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt were on display at UC San Diego's World AIDS Day event, where the theme was "getting to zero" — zero new infections, zero stigma and zero HIV-related deaths.
Also see the related article: AIDS Memorial Quilt Visits UC San Diego For World AIDS Day.
By Dwane Brown, Emily Burns
Monday, December 2, 2013
Sunday was the 25th World AIDS Day, but it has been 32 years since HIV/AIDS was identified in the United States. Science and medicine can extend the lives of those with the disease, but there still is no cure.

At UC San Diego on Monday, student health advocates gave out red ribbons, the awareness symbol for HIV/AIDS, and a biology professor played cello at the campus’ World AIDS Day event. The highlight of the event, however, was the display of sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

The quilt is the world’s largest ongoing art project, and it honors those who have died of AIDS. It began in San Francisco in 1987, and now has more than 48,000 panels created by people from all over the world.
Not only are we living in science fiction times now, we've been doing so for the past 35 years and didn't even realize it most of the time.

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