This past weekend I had a lot of time to kill, and so I spent some extra time keeping an eye on the various AIDS news feeds to which I subscribe. For that reason, this will probably be a longer update than usual. There's just so much that needs to be said...
Outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Africa last week, including a stop in Kenya to discuss sex and AIDS with both leaders and youth. Hopefully this visit will influence African nations towards greater participation in the fight against AIDS. Many African leaders still deny that AIDS exists.
Elsewhere in Africa, Nobel Prizewinning author Nadine Gordimer of South Africa has recently released a short story collection, called "Telling Tales," and has promised the proceeds to the fight against AIDS. The book includes works by Margaret Atwood, Hanef Kureishi, Arthur Miller, Woody Allen, and more.
In my browsing on Google News, I encountered an article by Mary Mostert that suggested that the solution to the AIDS crisis was to quarantine the world’s 40 million HIV infected individuals "until they are no longer contagious." I left a comment with my thoughts on the article at the bottom, though every time I view the article I think of more criticisms of Ms. Mostert’s views that I would like to add. I invite you all to read it for yourselves, and to comment if you so wish.
Last week I linked to the closure of the AIDS Hotline in Rhode Island. Well, today my report is the closure of Illinois’ John Keets Foundation, which is shutting down at a time when local HIV infection is actually on the rise. The Keets Foundation has raised over $125,000 over the past 13 years, and has played a vital role in increasing AIDS awareness in central Illinois. This is a disturbing trend to say the very least, and I hope some other organization is able to fill the void being left in the wake of this closure.
If you believe the Turkmenistan government, the former Soviet republic has no known AIDS cases. Few, if any, health experts outside the Turkmenistani government would agree with this statistic; instead, it is widely feared that this official sense of denial is setting the conditions for AIDS to go unchecked and explode into an epidemic of proportions unknown outside of Africa. Here’s hoping they pull their heads out of the sand before it’s too late.
As this week’s sliver of good news, researchers have determined that having extra copies of a gene for a blocking protein decreases susceptibility to HIV infection. This new information should aid research in the areas of treatment, prevention, prophylaxis, and beyond.
The global AIDS service community has reason both to hope and to fear in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami/quake catastrophe. The fear is that donors will give so generously to relief efforts that donations to AIDS service organizations will drop when people decide that they have given enough for the time being. The counterbalancing hope is that the generosity spawned by the tsunami relief effort will be contagious, and help to open the world's eyes to the billions of poverty-stricken souls in the rest of the world. This could lead to an increase in funding not only for AIDS related organizations, but also those that fight scourges such as hunger, illiteracy, and war, to name a few. Britain's Chancellor Gordon Brown has already proposed a "Marshall Plan for the poor," which would open up the channels of relief to Africa, the world's poorest continent. Naturally it is my hope that in the face of this disaster the world's privileged will not limit their giving to the victims of the tsunami disaster. Instead, I encourage people to consider this alternative; when giving to charities involved in the tsunami relief effort, make the donation to their general fund rather than the tsunami-specific relief fund. That way the organization can be free to assign your donation to the areas that need it most. In addition, consider a gift to an agency that has not been involved in the current relief effort, but that fights for a cause that is close to your heart.
Additionally, I'm open to including guest opinion/editorial/news pieces, so if you are interested in submitting to aidsblog, send a comment my way!!