Libby Back Mr. Borrero ENGL 1102 April 23, 2012 AIDS: America’s Epidemic AIDS has been an important issue in America for two decades. There are many ways that AIDS are viewed such as; medically, politically, socially, and ethically. While the news is full of people in America in wars, politics, and in disease, many are unaware about how their lives’ could be affected by this disease. According to the researchers at cdc.gov (Center of Disease Control and Prevention), “Approximately 40,000 new HIV infections occur each year in the United States, about 70 percent among men and 30 percent among women. Of these newly infected people, half are younger than 25 years of age”.(CDC) This paper is to inform you about AIDS, the political involvement in treating it, the effects of HIV on a pregnant woman, the psychological events that occur, and the social stigmas involved.123(CDC, cdc.gov) HIV and AIDS 4are two different things. AIDS is a disease is that is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus is so dangerous because it attacks the immune system, making it virtually impossible for it to fight off any infections. It especially attacks T-helper cells: a white blood cell that is imperative in keeping the immune system resistant against foreign anti-bodies. Another terrible detail about this disease is that it’s progressive. It can worsen and become more severe over time. The end result this progressive disease being Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. AIDS is caused by the HIV disease being untreated, for a prolonged amount of time. This process can be quickened from malnourishment or excessive illegal drug abuse5.
AIDS is one of the epidemics most associated with social stigmas and rumors. For example, people were afraid that kissing, touching, or hugging someone infected could transfer the virus. Another is that only gay men can get the disease, or that they are the cause of it. This is entirely untrue. It was first discovered in Africa in the year 1884, which is when the virus was transferred from apes to humans. It was then passed around from sexual intercourse in Africa and arrived in the United States about forty years ago. The most common way of being infected with HIV is through sexual intercourse (homosexual, heterosexual, oral, vaginal, or anal). Other ways are injecting drugs, mother to child transmission, blood transfusions, and unsterilized needles in tattoos/piercings. Professor Cantwell from Stanford University presented this in an online journal “In the first years of AIDS, the epidemic was largely ignored by the government and the disease was blamed on gay anal sex, drugs, and promiscuity. Gays were immediately labeled "high risk.” (Cantwell) This caused a negative social stigma that is still associated with gay HIV/AIDS victims. (AIDS in America, uts.cc.utexas.edu) When AIDS was first documented it was often referred to as GRID (gay-related immune deficiency.) This is because the first cases were found in gay men, or injecting drug users. The people in America were not empathetic at all towards the gay community or the drug abusers. The news stories, however objective they tried to be seemed to intentionally give a slant on the disease (HIV/AIDS). Many were stressing that it was only found in homosexuals and that they were dying from it. Other stories about how you could contract AIDS by simply hugging someone infected went around. While the government assured that the general public wouldn’t be at risk for contradicting HIV, they did nothing to help those who suffered. It wasn’t until 1983
that AIDS spread to the middle-class women and children of America. It also wasn’t until 1983 that the government took it upon themselves to federally take care of the affected. 6 From the 1980s until 2003, hundreds of thousands of dollars were given to research groups and hospitals to help find a cure or treatments for AIDS. Now there are dozens of different medications available to treat AIDS. The most popular would be highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). However, there are many of the different medications that need to be taken at once, usually referred to as a drug cocktail. For all of the different medications most of not covered by Medicare, and are extremely expensive (ranging from $300-to about $10500) to pay out of pocket. This makes it difficult for low-income families to afford treatment.
Like any other medications, there are side effects; nausea, vomiting, headaches,
Lipodystrophy (fat loss or gain), and/ or rashes. The medication available today is still relatively new. It took many years to receive government involvement. Now after decades of the AIDS epidemic it is now women and children that face the blunt of this disease. This is caused by mother to child transmission (MTCT). HIV can be passed on through pregnancy, breastfeeding, labor, and delivery. The chance of passing the virus to the fetus can be dropped from 25% to less than 2% by treatment and intervention. Unfortunately, mother is poor areas won’t always have access to medical treatment and facilities. If they do, they will then be given an option of getting the HIV test. Many mothers surprisingly opt-out of this test because they are afraid they will lose support of her family, spouse, and community if she were to test positive. This is usually the circumstances that put women into the difficult decision of abortion or giving birth to a high-risk baby. 8 The government finally stepped up and created The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPfAR) 9was created 2003 by President Bush and initially started small. But as
the disease spread at a fast pace the need for more help arrived. Thus in 2009, cost $63 million, and plans to commit to 6 years of global health. While there are other causes that need medical awareness and financing, PEPfAR has had great strides in lives saved, especially for mothers and their children. Some have said that instead of putting more funding in PEPfAR, that they should create a plan for the maternal/children health needs. The program has come a long way from its beginning back in 2003. That plan not only surpassed the 10 million people, it helped 110.1 million different cases by aiding them with medical care and saved 2.1 million lives by giving treatments. To conclude, HIV-related victim’s mortality was lowered by 10% in PEPfAR focus countries, than countries without any support. (President’s Emergency Plan, oxfordjournals.org) Another issue that people have to endure is the psychological burden that 10this disease ends up being. All these questions will inevitably running around in one’s mind. There are dozens of extreme emotions ranging from denial, anger, depression, shock, and fear of death. They become puzzled with how to live their life now with their inevitable fate. There is pressure of how to tell their loved ones. Some others may feel guilt, as if this infection is some sort of punishment for their lifestyle, or for the worry they may have infected others. Counseling is offered and encouraged to those who are infected because of the risk of suicide. "This is not surprising, considering the bleak prognosis of HIV infection and AIDS in the pre-HAART era. Stigma, discrimination, and social isolation may also contribute to elevated suicide rates, and anxiety and depression are common in HIV-infected patients. Substance abuse is also frequent in this population and has been shown to be related to suicide," the study authors write. (Cassels) AIDS awareness, funding, research and outreach have drastically improved since the epidemic in the 1980s. Even with all of the positive support people infected have to receive negative attention from the social stigmas. While there are celebrity who advocate and health
class for children, not many media outlets provide the perusal and human side of the disease. Though the subject is a difficult one to understand, it’d be better if people would try. There is no cure, but there is a cause. And people can fight for that cause. Because of the millions of people that were ignored and left to suffer alone that there should be more education of all natures. People need to become more accountable for their humanity and their treatment of other people. I hope people would take a second to realize how lucky they are, and how much support they could provide someone else.
The political information will deepen the readers understanding of my characters’ struggle and how they become educated about the history of AIDS and its lack of governmental assurance.
AIDS is the main point of this research paper because my three characters will be infected with the HIV virus. The story will revolve around their individual circumstances and the impact of PEPfAR.
The psychological affects refer to the character Billy and why he ends up in Rehab and Group Therapy. And while the social stigmas affect all of the characters this has more to do with a family/relative social occurrence than a stranger to stranger.
I will have three characters infected and one will have AIDS, one will have HIV, and one is at risk for HIV. This is done mainly to show each stage that people have to endure, to reach maximum understanding.
I want to show how easy it is to contract this disease if you aren’t careful. The drug abuser character will reflect that, and give a face and a person to the questions people have about IDUs.
When women and children of middle class America started to get affected by this disease, that is when the politicians stepped in and asked for federal funding. This is one of the social stigmas that one f my character, if not all will have to face.
The expensive medication makes it difficult for lower income people to afford treatment. This will be another obstacle for my characters Trent and Mary to overcome. Trent is a runaway crashing on peoples cousches in NYC, he doesn’t have a substantial amount of finance to help him with his newly disease. Mary just moved in with her single Aunt Lisa who is a painter in her spare time but mostly works as a teacher for a low yearly salary.
One of my characters will have to deal with being pregnant and infected and have to face the decision of whom to tell and whether or not to have an abortion.
This is essential for the masses affected with HIV. It created government funding and public awareness. I want to use the bill passing as my historical climax of the story.
All of my characters will have to deal with the psychological burden of being diagnosed. I want to show how common it is for people to become and depressed and contemplate suicide when ironically receiving lifethreatening news.
Works Cited Aids in the media. Common Thread Documentary, 2008. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oWu7FR-hZ0>.
Cassels, Caroline. "Suicide Rate Declines." MedScape NewsToday. WebMD LLC, 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. <http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/715780>. CDC. HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 2007. Vol. 19. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC: 2009 "HIV/AIDS." What Is Hiv/Aids?. N.P., 2011. Web. 14 Feb 2012. <http://www.avert.org/hiv.htm>.
"PEPFAR: AMERICA’S RESPONSE TO THE GLOBAL EMERGENCY OF HIV/AIDS, TB AND MALARIA." ONE International. N.p., 2012. Web. 14 Feb 2012.
Walensky, Rochelle, and Daniel Kuritzkes. "The Impact of The President's Emergency plan." Clinical Infectious Diseases. 50.2 (2010): 272-275. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. <http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/50/2/272.short>.