AIDS first entered our world back in the 1980's.
I was working locally in human services at the time (it was actually called GRID back then.) As devastating as a HIV diagnosis can be today, it was worse then. The stigma was oppressive (even family members were fearful of those afflicted), treatment was at best only palliative as death was almost inevitable, and information and support services were lacking. We still don't have a cure, but both medical professionals and the general public have much more knowledge about the illness.
We're doing a much better job educating people about risk prevention strategies. Our community has a wealth of support services (with many dollars for local services raised by our community through AIDSWalk), but still more work needs to be focused on prevention. I was shocked today when I read some statistics on AIDS; in the US, 1 in every 200 people over age 13 is HIV positive... and 20% of those are not aware of it because they haven't been tested. Minorities and those disenfranchised from health care are particularly hard hit.
We're talking less about HIV today; medications are increasing the life expectancy and quality of life for people living with AIDS... but our work isn't done. The impact of AIDS is even greater in less developed countries. Africa, with less than 15% of the world's population accouints for 70% of AIDS-related deaths.
To learn more or find out what you can to do help visit World AIDS Day.