World Has ‘Turned Blind Eye’ to HIV/AIDS Pandemic, Opinion Piece Says
Although the "desire to help" those affected by the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami has been "overwhelm[ing]" and "impress[ive]," the world has "turned a blind eye" to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Lynn Heinisch of the Atlanta-based humanitarian organization CARE writes in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion piece. While 191,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa die from AIDS-related causes each month and "millions" are orphaned or widowed, "too many" Europeans and Americans "believe on some level -- though [they] would never admit it -- that people suffering in Africa are somehow to blame for their tragedy or their plight is beyond help," according to Heinisch. However, the "majority" of new HIV infections are among "married, monogamous women, minding their own business when it all went horribly wrong," Heinisch writes. Although a tsunami "arises out of nowhere and there is no one blame," "disasters" like the HIV/AIDS pandemic "set in more slowly and are more complicated," according to Heinisch, who adds that "they are disasters nonetheless. They are problems we can prevent or solve, if we want to." Therefore, the world should "support the efforts of millions of Africans" working to curb the spread of HIV, help families affected by the pandemic, "reinforce" health and education infrastructures "devastated" by the disease and "invest in efforts to find a vaccine," Heinisch writes. "We have seen ourselves at our best in the past few weeks. Imagine what we would accomplish if we invested the same effort in other people just as deserving," Heinisch concludes (Heinisch, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.