Recent Health News: Cases of AIDS and HIV Infections on the Rise in Many Countries

AIDS, along with cancer, has been the scourge of modern society since its outbreak 25 years ago in the ’80s. A United Nations report estimates that there are 38 million people worldwide currently infected with HIV. A recent study shows that the number of new HIV infections has decreased considerably in ten different countries, including Cambodia, Haiti, Kenya, and Zimbabwe. While the studies may at first glance suggest a global decrease in the deadly virus, many other countries have just as many or even more new cases of HIV infection as before. South Africa continues to be the country worst affected, with about 19% of its population of 47 million afflicted at any given time. The good news: the Caribbean, usually lagging just behind South Africa in terms of new HIV infections, reported a decrease in the number of infections in Haiti and in the Bahamas.

All is not peachy keen and glowing in the fight against AIDS, however. Stunningly, it continues to be the leading cause of death in the Caribbean between ages 15 and 44. If you find that scary, consider this: AIDS has been proven to be the fifth leading cause of death in the United States for people ages 25 to 44. Vietnam, China, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Russia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh all reported increased incidents and outbreaks of HIV within the past year. Belize, a popular tourist location, has the highest per capita rate of HIV in Central America.

You may wonder: Well, isn’t our government, as well as other governments around the world, doing something to combat the increased global prevalence of HIV? Yes and yes again. Russia, one of the worst affected countries, is allotting an increased amount of money to AIDS prevention.The Global Fund to Fight AIDS (as well as tuberculosis and malaria), created four years ago at a U.N. meeting on AIDS, has bettered the health of millions of people in developing countries. But despite its victorious track record thus far, the Fund is undergoing serious problems. Its donors constantly demand tangible proof of its success – evidence that isn’t always available when and where they demand it. In addition to donor unrest, several countries who are part of the Fund have used their monetary allotments unwisely. Experts believe the Global Fund to Fight AIDS might be a dying cause.

With these frightening facts in mind, how can we do our individual part to slow down, and perhaps eventually help end the AIDS epidemic? Several factors have already been crucial in the slow of the epidemic, including delayed sexual intercourse, more frequent use of condoms, and less sexual partners. Doctors think that empowering women, and continuing to encourage people to have fewer sex partners are key in reducing the number of new HIV infections reported each year. A few important facts to keep in mind:

* HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids, such as blood, pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. HIV has never been transmitted through urine, saliva, sweat, or tears.

* HIV must get directly into your bloodstream to infect you. It must do so quickly; HIV dies after several minutes of being exposed to the air.

* The symptoms of HIV are varied and often ambiguous. They could be indicative of other ailments, or not. It’s impossible for a doctor to tell you what your symptoms are caused by without testing, so it’s best to be tested if you have the slightest suspicions, no matter what.

* If you think you are at risk, notify any sexual partner(s) you may currently have or have had in the past, and get tested immediately.

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