Rep. John Lewis Commemorates World AIDS Day
"Today we must renew our commitment to join together as a world community to combat HIV/AIDS. There are over 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS today. 4 million of those people only recently discovered they are infected with this threatening disease that might have been prevented through education and treatment. In 2004, a study by the National Primary Care Center, the Georgia Office of Minority Health, and Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) revealed that the incidence of HIV/AIDS was increasing in the American South. Georgia ranked third among states most affected, and the study revealed the disease had reached epidemic proportions in certain Atlanta metropolitan-area communities.
"Worldwide, more than half of those struggling with the disease live in sub-Saharan Africa. If the disease continues to spread at its current rate, projections suggest HIV/AIDS could potentially wipe out a third of the continent's population. Today in six sub-Saharan African countries the ravages of the disease has lessened the life expectancy to 40 years of age, a statistic more common in the 1800's than in 2004. The Asia-Pacific region registers over 7 million people infected with HIV/AIDS, according to a study by UNAIDS and the Asian Development Bank, and half a million people die every year from the disease in that region of the world.
"In the face of this pandemic, we must continue to reach out and use the resources of this great nation to care for those who are suffering from HIV and AIDS. We need to make a greater commitment to research that leads to a cure, a greater commitment to the effective distribution of life-saving medicines, and a greater commitment to education that has proven effective in stemming the tide of this disease. Above all, we cannot be silent. As a nation and as a people, we must acknowledge the devastation of this disease and do all we can to end it."
Rep. John Lewis is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health. He will be attending AIDS Atlanta Honors this evening to commemorate the day.