Monday, May 11, 2009

Reality Check

Yesterday morning as I sat in congregation at Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Terre Haute, my friend Dennis James Perry passed away from illnesses associated with advanced HIV disease. Dennis James was a friend with whom I often argued, not because we had issues, but because we both enjoyed a good argument. Dennis James and I had only known each other for about 5 years but we developed a mutual respect for each other quickly. He occasionally provided HIV prevention education classes in Terre Haute. A retired educator, DJ loved working with teenagers, he told me he felt at home with them.

In this world of Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) and Long Term Non Progressors (LTNPs) we often forget about the death. In fact, some 5,500 people die from AIDS related illnesses everyday so it is paramount that we do whatever we can to provide prevention education and testing whenever and wherever we can.

Here are some startling facts from USAID:

In 2007, 33 million people around the world were living with HIV/AIDS. More than 64.9 million people have been infected with HIV since the pandemic began. AIDS is the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the fourth leading cause of death globally.

HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects women, with 15.5 million HIV-positive worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, women represent 61 percent of the region’s cases.

An estimated 32 million people have died from AIDS since the beginning of the pandemic.

In 2007, 370,000 children under 15 were newly infected with HIV, bringing the total number of children living with HIV to 2 million. About half of all new adult HIV infections occur among 15-24 year olds.

Approximately 95 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS live in developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest-hit region, but other regions face severe or rapidly growing epidemics in specific countries or areas. Parts of Asia and Latin America are experiencing severe epidemics at the national or local level. Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the region with the fastest growing HIV/AIDS epidemic in the world.

DJ, you will be missed my friend.

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