In the 20 short years since its discovery, AIDS -- initially a mysterious disease that inspired considerable panic -- has become woven into our lives.
The media coverage of Rock Hudson's AIDS-related death during the infancy of AIDS awareness seems gargantuan compared to the commonplace manner in which similar celebrity deaths are handled today. Fund-raisers designed to eradicate AIDS or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, seem as common today as those for heart disease or cancer.
While considerable progress was realized in both treatment and prevention of the disease during the 1990s, there is now evidence that AIDS is being spread at alarming rates by gay men who are too young to remember the earliest reports of the disease. For many, the urgency of prevention measures has abated and risky sexual behavior appears to be on the upswing.
The effectiveness of certain treatments, particularly AZT, have been a blessing but have resulted in a false sense of security on the part of some people. There is a misperception that new treatments mean that there is a cure to AIDS or that the disease is now manageable.
That's anything but the truth.
In the U.S., a total of 900,000 people are infected with HIV and of these, 320,000 have developed AIDS, The New York Times reported. Each year, 40,000 Americans become infected with HIV and that figure is 5.3 million, worldwide.
Another disturbing statistic which unfortunately could result in AIDS prevention efforts being put on the backburner, is that it is becoming a disease that is prevalent among poor people, particularly minorities.
Blacks make up 13 percent of U.S. population but account for half of the new HIV infections, the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. AIDS is the leading cause of death among black Americans ages 25-44.
We continue to be in the middle of a serious AIDS crisis and unless prevention and awareness efforts are redoubled it will continue to debilitate and claim lives at an alarming rate.
Drug dealers demonstrate stupidity by endangering others
We have all seen the evidence of how stupid, sad and piteous drug users can be. It takes a serious lack of self-respect for drug users to abuse their bodies with illegal substances.
But beyond the norm, some local drug users recently reached the pinnacle of stupidity when they turned from doing damage to themselves to threatening the community.
A person putting himself in danger is one thing, for we all make choices that directly affect our lives. But when a person puts his neighbors at risk, he makes his problems our problems.
That is exactly what happened May 14 when the discovery of hazardous substances allegedly used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine led to the evacuation of several homes and of the Interlaken Golf Course in Fairmont.
By extending drug manufacturing beyond themselves and by putting police and average citizens in danger, these individuals show just how stupid they are.
-- Sentinel of Fairmont
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