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December 1, 2009 — World AIDS Day
December 1, 2009 6:17 AM   Subscribe

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 is the 21st annual World AIDS Day An estimated 33.4 million people worldwide worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS. Take a moment today to think about those you've lost, those who are still living with the disease, and how you can prevent yourself or others from becoming infected.

Many events are planned for the day, but no matter what the day, be sure to know the basics about transmission.
posted by xingcat (23 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
This year's focus is human rights and universal access.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 6:44 AM on December 1, 2009


Troubling news on this front in East Africa:
The Ugandan parliament is currently considering an “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” under which any person “convicted of gay sex is liable to life imprisonment.” If that person is HIV positive or has sex with a minor or a person with a disability, he or she would be guilty of “aggravated homosexuality” and face the death penalty.

[...]

Uganda, which following the collapse of Siad Barre’s Somalia became the focus of the Family’s interests in the African Horn, has been the most tragic victim of their projection of American sexual anxieties. Following implementation of one of the continent’s only successful anti-AIDS program, President Yoweri Museveni, the Family’s key man in Africa, came under pressure from the United States to emphasize abstinence instead of condoms. … Meanwhile, Ugandan souls may be more “pure,” but their bodes are suffering; following the American intervention, the Ugandan AIDS rate, once dropping, nearly doubled.
Previously: The Family and American politics, The Family and Somalia.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:46 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read a statistic in the Guardian a few years back that in the UK, less than 200 people had contracted HIV, ever, who were NOT homosexuals or did NOT have intercourse with someone from Africa.

I have yet to read any information to the contrary of this, which if true (I have no reason to believe not), is rather remarkable, considering the amount of attention HIV/AIDS gets.

And by that I don't mean the incredible damage HIV/AIDS is doing to those societies where a large percentage of the population have contracted the disease (which should continue to get widespread attention), but in terms of the actual chance of contracting the disease here in the UK.

I would very much appreciate comments from people closer to the issue.
posted by dearsina at 7:13 AM on December 1, 2009


I read a statistic in the Guardian a few years back that in the UK, less than 200 people had contracted HIV, ever, who were NOT homosexuals or did NOT have intercourse with someone from Africa.

Um, here you go, for starters:

as a result more than 5.0% of the estimated 20,000 hemophiliacs in the United States are HIV+ and as many as 90% of people with severe hemophilia are infected with HIV according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:18 AM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I read a statistic in the Guardian a few years back that in the UK, less than 200 people had contracted HIV, ever, who were NOT homosexuals or did NOT have intercourse with someone from Africa.

I have yet to read any information to the contrary of this, which if true (I have no reason to believe not), is rather remarkable, considering the amount of attention HIV/AIDS gets.


The number of heterosexually acquired HIV infections diagnosed in the UK has risen hugely over the last 15 years. In 1999, for the first time, the rate of heterosexually acquired HIV diagnoses overtook the rate of diagnoses in men who have sex with men. The peak was 4,921 in 2004, since when there has been a moderate decline. A total of 45,947 cases had been reported by the end of June 2009.

Most of the new diagnoses are in people who probably acquired HIV in other countries, particularly in Africa. However, the number of infections probably acquired from heterosexual sex within the UK has soared from 228 in 2000 to 794 in 2008.

Injecting drug use has played a smaller part in the HIV epidemic in the UK than it has in many other developed countries. During 2008, a reported 152 people were diagnosed with HIV probably acquired through injecting drug use. By the end of June 2009, 5,083 people had acquired HIV by this route.

In total, 1,928 people had been reported as infected through treatment blood/tissue transfer or blood factor by the end of June 2009, of whom 79% were diagnosed before 1993. Almost all of the recent diagnoses within this category relate to infections acquired outside the UK.

Surveillance of children recognised as born to HIV-infected women relies on confidential voluntary reports from paediatricians and obstetricians. A total of 9,874 children born in the UK to HIV infected mothers have been reported by the end of June 2009. Of these, 847 have been diagnosed with HIV infection. Including children born in other countries, there have been 1,826 UK diagnoses of HIV in people who acquired the virus from their mothers.

posted by EarBucket at 7:24 AM on December 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


South Africa's Zuma apparently says he's going to get tested publicly (but the results will not be publicized), and although it's a good photo-op and arguably a bit of a stunt I still appreciate when politicians do the right thing.

I mean, just a few years ago he was all "Oh, this HIV-positive woman who says I raped her? It was totally consensual, plus I showered thoroughly afterwards so I can't be infected!". Sigh.

But now its today, and this is the right thing to do anyway, if only for the publicity bonus to, you know, SCIENCE!, which is so needed in some parts.

Another morsel of good news, and a remarkable instance of the universe aligning in one's favour: HIV+ dude in Germany gets bone marrow transplant from donor with genetic resistance to the virus, virus disappears from body.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:09 AM on December 1, 2009


I read a statistic in the Guardian a few years back that in the UK, less than 200 people had contracted HIV, ever, who were NOT homosexuals or did NOT have intercourse with someone from Africa.

Well stop reading the Daily fucking Mail.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:10 AM on December 1, 2009


I have yet to read any information to the contrary of this, which if true (I have no reason to believe not), is rather remarkable

Does it take less time to share misinformation with others than google "heterosexual uk statistics" and click on any of the top results?
posted by crayz at 8:12 AM on December 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have yet to read any information to the contrary of this, which if true (I have no reason to believe not), is rather remarkable

While it's admirable that you came here seeking more information, the problem with your comment is that there may be people who read your comment and don't read further, or who do read further but later can't remember which (low heterosexual infection/high heterosexual infection) is the truth. Repeating "stats" like those from the Guardian without first looking for corroboration spreads dangerous misinformation. The majority of the blame goes to the shoddy reporting that started the rumors, but no one is helped when "remarkable" stats or ideas are taken as true based on one source, and repeated.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:20 AM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


more misinformation - good aids v bad aids
posted by the cuban at 8:22 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The number of heterosexually acquired HIV infections diagnosed in the UK has risen hugely over the last 15 years...

And, more:
"HIV is the fastest growing serious health condition in the UK. By 2009 it's estimated that there will be over 80,000 people living with HIV, a quarter of whom will be undiagnosed.

The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in the UK who contracted the virus through heterosexual sex, either in the UK or abroad, is increasing. In 1999 heterosexual sex overtook homosexual sex as the most common route of transmission among new HIV cases overall.

In 2007, heterosexual transmission accounted for 55% of those diagnosed in the UK."
Yep ... got that from Googling "heterosexual uk statistics" (as per crayz's suggestion). You should try it. You can learn alot aside from hazy recollections of a Guardian article.
posted by ericb at 8:33 AM on December 1, 2009


dearsina -- to make it even easier for you, just click on this link to get the Google results for "heterosexual uk statistics."
posted by ericb at 8:35 AM on December 1, 2009


I found that tidbit about Uganda deeply disturbing. It seems that either that bill or another like it is being considered to criminalize the transmission of HIV in general, but many think it's a bad idea.

There's lots of interesting stuff in the AIDS topic at allAfrica.
posted by carmen at 8:49 AM on December 1, 2009


One of my professors in college gave up the ghost from AIDS related cancer. On his office door, he had a small poster that detailed the public reaction to AIDs from the 1980s. I wish I could find an image of it because it's so much more powerful than a description. But it basically went like this:

1981 Aids discovered in the US
1984 Hysteria
1986 Education
1987 Understanding
1990s Treatment
2000s Complacency --- This is perhaps the most dangerous time.

Maybe someone else can find it. It really stuck with me.
posted by zizzle at 9:19 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I heard this story about Burt Reynolds: He appeared at an AIDS benefit in the early eighties, back when the band still played on, and at one point when being asked some questions by a reporter, snapped, "If this were a benefit for cancer no one would ask me stupid questions like 'Why am I here?'".

Burt Reynolds never appealed to me before I heard that story. He always seemed kind of skeevy. But as long as I remember that anecdote I won't be able to help respecting him.
posted by orange swan at 9:35 AM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Worth thinking about: according to a recent report from the UN, worldwide infections have decreased by 17% over the past 8 years and the spread of infection appears to have hit its peak in 1996.

I say "worth thinking about" partly because the poster that zizzle describes hits it on the nail. Evidence of fewer infections helps feed complacency and contributes to an AIDS backlash along with inevitable calls (calls that are not new -- the same thing happened in the 1990s) for, among other things, defunding AIDS programs (using the label "AIDS favoritism") and transferring monies to diseases that are "more" serious or urgent. Fewer infections worldwide is encouraging news, but unfortunately, as with everything about the politics of HIV/AIDS, it's more complicated than that.
posted by blucevalo at 9:45 AM on December 1, 2009


Hows about we make December 2 World Round Up AIDS Denialists In Positions of Government Power and Hit Them with Sticks Day?
posted by Rhomboid at 9:57 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't use drugs or share needles. I am not a sex worker. I use a condom 95% of the time. I'm a thirty-five mother of two in an eleven year monogamous marriage with a man. I am an AIDS activist.

And last October I took an HIV/AIDS test because my health had been compromised.

It was one of those quick result AIDS tests. A girl younger than me pricked my finger and told me she'd let me know before I left the office, and then I spent the next fifteen minutes wondering if I was HIV positive.

I wondered if I was going to be handed a death sentence and what that meant for my children. My finger tips tingled the whole time and I wanted to hold someone's hand so badly, but didn't because I knew I'd burst into tears if I did.

The test was negative this time, but I have to go back every three months for a year to be sure.

Please get tested.

Get tested because you love someone, or get tested because you love yourself. It only takes minutes and can save your life.
posted by FunkyHelix at 10:43 AM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hows about we make December 2 World Round Up AIDS Denialists In Positions of Government Power and Hit Them with Sticks Day?

Agreed.

Honestly, every year this day is fairly bittersweet for me. An HIV-positive man named Dennis babysat me, mentored me and was my shelter whenever I would want to get away from my parents, and I didn't know back then that he was very sick. This was in the mid 1980s, and when he died I was told just how sick he'd been. All I knew, until he died, was that he was one of the nicest and most caring men I'd known... what I didn't know is that his memory would stick around with me for life and he remains one of the kindest men I've ever known. I credit Dennis with my interest in activism and he's the direct cause of the scant volunteer work I've done to educate those on how the virus is spread and, equally importantly, how it's not. I miss Dennis.

Thanks for the post. Damn good.
posted by neewom at 10:56 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I suspect that dearsina is remembering this report -- which was an annual tally (not "ever").
Immigrants from Africa have overtaken homosexual men as the largest group reporting new HIV infections in Britain. Last year 4,163 people were found to have HIV, of whom 1,338 were homosexual and more than 1,500 heterosexuals from Africa. Fewer than 200 cases were attributed to heterosexual sex in Britain.

I'm not sure about that wording -- it seems to imply a difference between sex in Britain and in Africa, but it probably means that African immigrants brought HIV with them and could have infected others in either place regardless of gender.

The point of the report seemed to be bringing attention to the explosion of HIV infections in Africa and how that was not a distant problem but one literally coming home to the UK, rather than stigmatizing gay or African HIV positive persons. Among other factors, heterosexual transmission in Western countries has always been considerably lower.
posted by dhartung at 1:07 PM on December 1, 2009


I have yet to read any information to the contrary of this, which if true (I have no reason to believe not), is rather remarkable, considering the amount of attention HIV/AIDS gets.

I'm sort of stunned, but not surprised, that people pick up on these ridiculous claims and - conveniently - have never read anything to contradict it. Like it's the only thing they've ever read on the subject, it has confirmed what they want to believe and they've gone on their ignorant and merry way. Common sense calls bullshit on this notion, but for some reason people still like to think it's "the gay disease" or "the Africa disease".

This is why we still need World AIDS Day to combat ignorance.
posted by crossoverman at 6:02 PM on December 1, 2009


Get tested because you love someone, or get tested because you love yourself. It only takes minutes and can save your life.

One of my good friends, and my partner's mentor, was diagnosed with HIV, then subsequently diagnosed with an AIDS-defining respiratory illness within 3 days of each other in February. He thought he had been in perfect health, barring regular HIV tests, which he claims to have gotten within 5 years from his diagnosis date. He spent the next 3 days in the hospital on oxygen, then 3 months in the ICU on a respirator in a medically induced coma, and the next 2 months bed-ridden and mentally destabilized but awake in a hospital room. He is just now recovering his lost muscle mass while working half-time from home because his sick leave has run out and his short-term disability is late in coming. He is still going to PT 4 times a week and using oxygen for almost the entire day, and doctors aren't sure if he'll ever be able to be completely free of the need for oxygen. He's lost almost an entire year of his life fighting back from complications of a late HIV diagnosis, although his immune system is responding well to treatment.

Please get tested, even if you think there's no chance you could have contracted the virus. It's not worth the cost of finding out too late.
posted by This Guy at 5:45 AM on December 2, 2009


dhartung, thank you for taking time to finding that report. It seems like it corroborates with EarBucket's numbers.

I have been proven wrong (thanks MeFi), the correct numbers (based on the statistics presented above) seem to more like this:

New HIV/AIDS cases per year in the UK (homosexual sex, and cases were the disease was contracted abroad are excluded):

Sexually transferred: 794
Needles: 152
Blood transfusion: 0 (Almost all of the recent [since 1993] diagnoses within this category relate to infections acquired outside the UK)
posted by dearsina at 3:17 AM on December 9, 2009


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