Today is World AIDS day, an occasion for global awareness and reflection on the collective struggles against the AIDS virus. There are an estimated 33 million people living with AIDS. The virus annually kills an estimated 2 million people and infects an estimated 2.5 million new carriers. Here is what commentators and experts have to say on this terrible disease and how we're doing in the battle against it.
- George W. Bush: Why I Fought AIDS The former president writes in the Washington Post, "No national security strategy is complete in the long run without promoting global health, political freedom and economic progress. ... I firmly believe it has served American interests to help prevent the collapse of portions of the African continent. But this effort has done something more: It has demonstrated American character and beliefs. America is a certain kind of country, dedicated to the inherent and equal dignity of human lives. It is this ideal - rooted in faith and our founding - that gives purpose to our power. When we have a chance to do the right thing, we take it."
- If Not for 9/11, Would AIDS Be Bush's Legacy? The New Republic's Harold Pollack reminds us why liberals like himself hold Bush's AIDS programs in high regard. "I will always wonder whether Bush could have achieved a more humane and successful presidency, were it not for 9/11 and what accompanied it. Whatever there might have been to compassionate conservatism was cut short by both the loosening of political constraints and the incredible psychological pressures associated with the global war on terrorism and the wars. PEPFAR was the one large exception."
- We're Making a Difference Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Michael Kazatchkine writes in the Huffington Post, "Well over five million -- more than half of all people in urgent need of AIDS treatment in the developing world -- are now receiving anti-retroviral therapy, a life-saving medication which only five years ago was beyond the reach of all but a privileged few. We are also making progress on prevention: HIV prevalence among young people has fallen by more than 25 per cent in 15 of the worst-affected countries."
- The New Generations of AIDS Activists The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes, "Roughly a quarter-century after gay men rose up to demand better access to H.I.V. medicines, a new breed of AIDS advocate is growing up on college campuses. Unlike the first generation of patient-activists, this latest crop is composed of budding public health scholars. They are mostly heterosexual. Rare is the one who has lost friends or family members to the disease. Rather, studying under some of the world’s most prominent health intellectuals, they have witnessed the epidemic’s toll during summers or semesters abroad, in AIDS-ravaged nations like Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda."
- Social Norms Still Obstruct Prevention The Britannica Blog's Julie Rhoad warns, "We must continue to hold out hope that society will eventually be able to tackle the underlying factors obstructing prevention – the social forces and other implications, like stigma, discrimination, and access to care, that nurture this epidemic."