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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR.

DEAR READER,

In recent months, AIDS coverage by the media has taken a turn. In addition to news covering the struggles with vaccine development or the advantages and disadvantages of various drug therapies, several other themes have cropped up: the politics of AIDS, the economics of AIDS, the ethics of AIDS. Some of these themes are not necessarily new--indeed, many have been explored before--but it seems now that more people are starting to listen.

The politics of AIDS. The US is certainly familiar with AIDS politics. The paths to government funding for HIV/AIDS research and assistance have been paved with the struggles of activists and politicians alike. However, in the current climate of globalization, AIDS is now perceived as a multinational issue. The recent announcement by the US government that AIDS is a national security threat sent shockwaves through the international community. The US National Security Council has never been involved in combating an infectious disease. By current estimates, 25% of Africa's population will die of AIDS in the next 20 years. Similar catastrophes are probable in Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union and virtually every developing nation. The implications for the governments of these countries, as well as those of developed nations, are disastrous. A virus is literally reshaping the course of humankind.

The economics of AIDS. The decimation of a population is cause enough for despair, but the epidemiology of AIDS increases the gravity of the matter. AIDS is killing millions of people, with the greatest prevalence of infection among young adults. This age group is a tremendous resource to any population. Africa is witness to human resource shortages; the workforce is dwindling. Also, in the wake of this epidemic are millions of orphans--an economic burden of another sort. With an estimated 5,000 people in Africa becoming infected every day, the economic effects of this devastation have only begun to be realized. Likewise, the disease is now infecting more diverse ethnic and socio-economic groups in the US.

The ethics of AIDS. Recent conflicts over the licensing and sale of antiretroviral drugs in developing countries have pitted wealthy international pharmaceutical companies against governments and human rights activists. However, the question of how to make expensive medications available to millions of infected people who cannot afford them is only the tip of the iceberg. Other ethical concerns have surfaced regarding the participation of such individuals in clinical research. A recent study on the transmission rates in serodiscordant heterosexual couples in Africa has drawn criticism. What if other studies were to investigate how the virus is transmitted or how it progresses in untreated individuals? If' these individuals will not have access to life-saving treatments, should medical science stand to gain knowledge from their situation while providing nothing in return?

All of these developments put our work at The Center for AIDS in perspective. We are battling not only a disease, but also a veritable threat to civilization. Our mission is to provide the latest HIV/AIDS treatment and research information to all persons living with HIV, their physicians and caregivers. What we report may not always be popular, but will be based on our judgment of' what is supported by facts and data. Our work is not over until a cure is found. By reading RITA! you participate in this work. Knowledge, hope and inspiration may yet conquer this disease.

Very truly yours, The Center for AIDS: Hope & Remembrance Project

Thomas Gegeny, MS,ELS Editor
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Author:Gegeny, Thomas
Publication:Research Initiative/Treatment Action!
Date:Jun 1, 2000
Words:576
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