AIDS

D.C. Tests Positive

Three percent of all District of Columbia residents are living with HIV/AIDS, according to a report released in March by the District government. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers more than 1 percent to be an “epidemic.” The report also reveals that one-third to one-half of D.C. residents may not know their HIV/AIDS status. D.C. Lutheran Bishop Richard Graham responded to the new statistics with great sadness. “We have to remind ourselves that HIV/AIDS respects no boundaries, but especially targets poor people,” Graham told Sojourners. “We have to recommit ourselves to care for the poor. That’s one of our great callings.” Here are some of the D.C. numbers.

2,984. The number of D.C. residents per 100,000 over age 12 living with HIV/AIDS—about 3 percent of the population.

22 percent. The increase in HIV/AIDS cases in D.C. from 2006.

4.3 percent. African Americans in D.C. with HIV/AIDS. For Latinos, it’s 1.9 percent; for whites, it’s 1.4 percent.

6.5 percent. D.C.’s African-American men who are living with HIV/AIDS.

Source: “District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Update 2008.”

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Sojourners Magazine June 2009
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Save Lives? Yes, You Can.

I am one of the lucky ones. Every few months I travel to Zambia and meet people who are dealing with AIDS. If that seems contradictory, let me explain: Millions of people in the world’s poorest countries now receive drugs that have saved their lives and brought hope to their communities. Instead of seeing people being carried to the clinics, emaciated and weak, I see relatively healthy patients walking to the pharmacy to receive their next month’s supply of medicine. I see men and women who are able to work and care for their children. I see children who are uninfected, thanks to prenatal intervention, or who know that, although they will always be HIV-positive, it is not a death sentence.

Since the start of PEPFAR (The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) five years ago, more than 2 million people have received treatment; millions more pregnant women have been tested and treated to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus. While other countries have also been involved, the U.S. response has been most significant.

Organizations such as World Vision, Food for the Hungry, and Compassion International have also been on the forefront of the work. The Roman Catholic, Christ­ian Reform, Nazarene, and Metho­dist churches, among many others, have all played significant roles.

The change in the last few years is amazing. No longer do funeral processions dominate the roads or lines form for blocks outside clinics. And perhaps most surprising to me is how I, as a U.S. citizen, am treated. Wherever I go, people tell me, “Please thank the American people for sending us the drugs that save our lives.”

I pass on the thanks to you, to the Bush administration, and to Congress, as well as all the churches and nonprofits who have worked tirelessly to provide help to those they may never meet. But I also offer you a challenge.

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Sojourners Magazine March 2009
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Seven Against the World

Sometimes I think I have become immune to Washington, D.C., feeling as though nothing can shock or surprise me, and then I hear a story that brings my expectations to an all-time low. Seven senators -- known as the "Coburn Seven" -- are playing politics with the lives of millions of people affected by deadly diseases by blocking the reauthorization of the Global AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis bill.

AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis cause more than 90 percent of all deaths from [...]

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