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Thread: AIDS Epidemic 'over' in Australia

  1. #1
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    12 Jan 07

    AIDS Epidemic 'over' in Australia

    Many of us here are old enough to remember the panic when AIDS began to spread rapidly in the 1980s. Some of us lost people.

    It brought out the best and worst in our societies.

    Medical staff refused to touch patients. Bodies were left to rot because mortuaries would not touch them. Sick people in need of compassion and help lost jobs, were thrown out of schools and housing. People abandoned by their families sometimes died alone and often in the most horrible ways. There were serious suggestions that people with AIDS be treated as lepers & plague victims once had been. In some places they were. Governments often did too little until it was too late.

    Then there was the other side. The people who let love and compassion overcome fear. The people who risked their health, jobs and reputation to do the right thing. The people who sat with sick and dying strangers to comfort them in their darkest hour. No one who has not had close contact with the gay community will understand the scale and nobility of their response. They organised teams to care for the dying. They fought as if their lives depended on it. They fought to educate their own and others. They fought indifference and hatred. They fought for more and better drugs, and they were instrumental in getting them.

    It is a supreme irony that millions of people who probably think of homosexuals as some lesser, immoral creatures will be able to live longer lives because of the drugs & funding they pushed so hard for.

    The AIDS epidemic peaked in Australia in the early 1990s, when 1000 people a year were dying. At a funeral for someone very dear to me I asked a man in his 40s how many of these funerals he had been to. He said he had stopped counting several years earlier at 25. Even now I struggle to process that.

    This is wonderful news for Australia. There is still a vast amount to do worldwide. We have now bast the end of the beginning, and can perhaps see the beginning of the end. I hope I live to see the day when people view AIDS the way we now view smallpox - surprise that it once killed so many.

    Australia's peak AIDS organisations and scientists have announced an end to the AIDS epidemic, as the country joins the few nations in the world to have beaten the syndrome.

    The number of annual cases of AIDS diagnoses is now so small, top researchers and the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations have declared the public health issue to be over.

    Since the 1990s, treatment that stops HIV from progressing to AIDS which damages the immune system to the extent that it can no longer fight off infection has become more effective.

    AFAO CEO Darryl O'Donnell said AIDS cases have dropped to small enough numbers to no longer be routinely recorded.

    "AIDS is over in the way we knew it," he said. "We've got access to treatment that has had extraordinary effect, and community activism since the very early years of AIDS in the '80s and '90s has helped the efforts to fight it."

    Professor Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute, told the ABC that anti-retroviral medications had been crucial to the epidemic's decline, allowing people diagnosed with HIV to live healthy, long lives.

    "I've actually seen a dramatic transformation of HIV from a universal death sentence to now a chronic, manageable disease," Professor Lewin said

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    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  2. #2
    Contributor DarthSiddius's Avatar
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    23 Nov 11
    Burlington, ON
    HIV/AIDS has become a chronic disease rather than a death sentence in many areas of the world. Given the magnitude of the epidemic and the associated scare / misinformation we had, it is an astonishing achievement. Happy for Australia! Here's to hoping we follow suite quickly in India!

  3. #3
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    12 Jan 07
    Australia has one of the best Pharmaceutical schemes in the world. A committee of medical experts assesses whether or not government should subsidize drugs. The result is affordable access to medication for all Australians. The latest drug to be recommended for this is PrEP, a drug that is 99% effective in limiting the transmission of HIV. There are already 15,000 Australians on the drug in clinical trials. That has been a factor in limiting new infections. This will give many more people access. This is very, very good news.

    I look forward to the day when people all over the world have access to this drug. We may all live to see AIDS talked of the way my Dad's generation talked about polio - a terrible part of an increasingly distant past.

    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

  4. #4
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    11 Sep 10
    Its happening but its a pill a day

  5. #5
    New Member
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    31 Jan 19
    Shepparton, Victoria
    As one who lost a son in '96, I can only be grateful!


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