OAKLAND — If Paulette Hogan were a gay white man living with HIV in Alameda County, her life in some ways would be a whole lot easier.
For the HIV-positive African-American woman, finding the appropriate education, support services and funding to deal with the disease is a challenge she and others like her continue to face, even though it has been almost a decade since the HIV rate among African Americans in Alameda County was declared a state of emergency. "When I first tried to access services, they were predominately for males," said Hogan, 42, an Oakland resident. "There have been so many cuts in funding to black people who are young, homeless or gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender living with HIV."
The county's strategy for combating AIDS and HIV has raised concern in various segments of the African-American community. In response, the Alameda County African American State of Emergency Task Force is focusing on such issues as inadequate prevention, education and service funding in an effort to stop the rise of new infections. Task force members include AID for AIDS Africa and the AIDS Project of the East Bay. The task force hopes to target African Americans and raise health awareness at a World AIDS Day Walk from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at Oakland's Snow Park.
Task force members say that through the years, the face of HIV-AIDS has changed from a gay white man's disease to the plight of racially and economically marginalized people. In addition, the county's limited resources and blanket approach to the problem create serious health disparities, task force members said. In 1998, Alameda County was the first in the nation to declare a state of emergency in the AIDS and HIV rates in the black community. Officials hoped the declaration would spur additional state and federal resources, although that plan has not worked as hoped.
While the numbers of African Americans diagnosed with AIDS has decreased over the past decade, African Americans continue to suffer from the disease disproportionally. That is also the case regarding available services targeted to that population. For African Americans, the AIDS case rate in 1998 was 59.4 per 100,000, compared with 13.1 for whites and 12.5 for Latinos. In 2004, the rate among African Americans had decreased to 39.3 but was still substantially higher than the 5.4 rate for whites and 6.5 for Latinos.....
NOTE: If you go to the VOA site linked in the story below, you can hear the complete interview and story with the three African presidents. RealPlayer or MP3 playing software required.
The presidents of Rwanda, Burundi, and Mozambique are trying to mobilize greater public involvement to fight against the disease in their countries. They’re concerned about the mounting toll HIV/AIDS is taking on African countries and resources. With support from the United Nations Children’s Fund, the three leaders and their wives have been speaking at highly visible public events in order to lead by example and enlist resourceful workers, donors, and caretakers in national treatment programs. These efforts are part of the new partnership campaign for children affected by HIV/AIDS being coordinated by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. As international organizations get ready to mark the annual observance of World AIDS Day on December 1st, statistics show that HIV/AIDS has struck more than 16 % of Mozambique’s population. The country has adopted a new measure to introduce information on HIV prevention into its primary schools. Burundi president Pierre Nkurunziza and Rwandan president Paul Kagame have pledged access to antiretroviral drugs for children, transportation to treatment centers, and free primary education for child AIDS victims. The African leaders are responding to data that shows less than five % of children in need of antiretroviral drugs have access to them, and even fewer have access to inexpensive antibiotic medicine for treating common infections that kill children already weakened by HIV. Eighty-five percent of all children living with AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa, and Africa is home to more than 12 million of the 15 million children worldwide who have been orphaned by AIDS. Although only about 13% of Rwandan children who need antiretrovirals actually get them, the country has in a very short time more than tripled its access to the drugs to an estimated 1,000 children, up from 300 only a few months ago....
KIEV (AFP) - Vitaly became
HIV-positive by injecting drugs with a contaminated needle -- the method that's fuelling a veritable HIV epidemic in Ukraine, estimated to be Europe's worst-affected country. The 29-year-old, who has been HIV-positive for five years, was aware that he could get infected by using unclean needles, but the urge to get high was just too strong. "I knew that you can get infected through a syringe, but a person who is chemically dependent sets different priorities in life," he told AFP. "First comes the satisfaction, then comes everything else."
Drug use and unprotected sex are driving an HIV epidemic in Ukraine, where an estimated 1.4 percent of the adult population is infected -- the worst-affected country in Europe, according to a recent
UNAIDS report. "Fuelled by unsafe injecting drug use and unprotected sex, its epidemic shows no signs of abating," the report said. Although official figures show some 85,000 HIV-positives in Ukraine, the UN estimates the number to be around 360,000.
In addition to health problems, those infected face enormous problems in a country where HIV and
AIDS are seen as a disease of "addicts and prostitutes," and where ignorance of the illness and fear of transmission reach deep into all levels of society.
Vitaly, for example, once lay on an operating table waiting to get a boil removed, when hospital staff opened his chart and saw that he was HIV-positive. He was suddenly told that he needed to go to another clinic because removing boils was not that hospital's specialty. "It sounded disingenous to say the least," Vitaly said. "I was already on the operating table, waiting for the nurse... and then I had to get up, put my clothes back on. I was shaking inside."
Another was when his parents set aside separate plateware for him to eat from.
"It hurt, because HIV is not transmitted in that way," he said....
The AIDS epidemic is creating a whole new set of challenges to young people, according to local health experts.
On this annual World AIDS Day, professionals say across the United States, young individuals now make up a large portion of new cases.
"Youth accounted for approximately 12 percent of new HIV cases in Maryland in 2003 and when you say youth, you're looking at people that are under 24," said Richard Matens, the director of the Ryan White Title I Office for the Baltimore City Health Department. "When you're looking at the total amount of new cases, you're looking at approximately in Baltimore City 17 percent of all new HIV cases are people who are under 30 years old."
According to experts, the changes are a result of various reasons, including a carefree attitude about sex and a lack of education at school and home. "Youth are more likely to report having heterosexual activity that is high-risk, whereas people who are older than 24, they are more likely to be IV drug users," Matens said.
He added 44 percent of all new infections of adults are IV drug users. "Baltimore County's health officer said it seems every year around this time the face of AIDS seems to change. Dr. Pierre Vigilance wants to see more emphasis placed on sexual behavior among young people than what group has contracted AIDS this year.
"The fingerpointing needs to stop," he said. "We initially with HIV looked at homosexual men and said that's the group, and then we looked at substance abusers and said that's the group, and then last year they were looking at women and saying that's the group and it's everybody." [...]