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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Thousands still dying of AIDS in U.S.

    There have been about 19,000 cases of HIV/AIDS in Arizona since 1981, and about half of those infected have died, said Dr. Richard Carmona, former U.S. surgeon general and a professor of public health, in a speech given to UA medical students Friday for World AIDS Day.

    The speech was part of a series of talks aimed at raising awareness for World AIDS Day and Global AIDS Awareness Week, which concluded Friday.

    The topic of Carmona’s speech was “”U.S. Policy and HIV/AIDS,”” and he focused on the progress he believes is necessary to educate and encourage the U.S. and other countries to prevent the further spread of the disease.

    “”The greatest correlate for health status is socioeconomic status,”” Carmona said in his speech.

    While serving with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, Carmona said he saw what “”real poverty was all about.””

    Carmona, who grew up in Harlem, N.Y., said he faced poverty and homelessness in his youth and saw first-hand the health effects of low socioeconomic status.

    While completing his residency at San Francisco General Hospital in the early 1980s, Carmona dealt with the first HIV/AIDS cases, though the disease had not yet been identified.

    HIV/AIDS was not well understood, and there was little support for research and education about it at the time, Carmona said.

    “”We had elected officials on the hill saying things like, ‘Serves them right,’ and ‘This is God’s way of punishing them,'”” Carmona said.

    The relation of a society’s economic standing and the proliferation of AIDS was a main point in his speech, and Carmona suggested these areas need the most education regarding prevention. Between 80 and 90 percent of people in areas like northern Africa transmit the disease because they are unaware that they carry it, he said.

    Sub-Saharan Africa is home to about 10 percent of the world’s population, but about 60 percent of the global total of HIV carriers, with 25.8 million infected people, according to UNAIDS, a group of 10 United Nations organizations working to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

    About 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, with more than 7,000 new cases developing each year, according to the World AIDS Day Web site.

    The talks were organized and sponsored by the UA American Medical Students’ Association and Global Health Forum and included speeches held at the UA College of Medicine from Dr. Steve Klotz, program director for the infectious diseases fellowship and a professor in the department of infectious disease, Dr. Jennifer Kasper, with the Doctors for Global Health, and U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe.

    “”I thought it was important that health science students were aware of the pandemic,”” said Anandani Nellan, Global Health Chair for the UA American Medical Students’ Association and second-year UA medical student. “”If only a few of us are aware of it, we can take that knowledge everywhere we go.””

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