nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

President Obama's AIDS/HIV Plan In Comparison

Just some perspective on the statistics, and public health initiatives.

AIDS is a horrific disease.  Our concern is magnified whenever a disease targets a specific group of people, or that affect us by shortening life.  Similarly we are horrified by potentially lethal diseases that target children.

So it's the right thing to do to make some diseases a target for out public health efforts. The Obama Administration has issued a new plan to attack the spread of AIDS.  Despite a commitment to increase medical research, the President's initiative doesn't substantively increased funds in this project.  Rather, it re-distributes funds to areas that may have greater impact on access to care and disease prevention.

As a part of that effort, the following statement was made but not referenced:
"There is a new HIV infection every 9 1/2 minutes in the U.S. But about one of every five people living with HIV doesn't know it."
The first part is accurate.  The second is based on an estimate by the CDC.  There are 56,000 new cases a year.  If you divide the number of minutes in a year by this number, you get one every 9.38 minutes.

With current treatment, the lifespan of sufferers with AIDS has been extended, to decades in many cases.  But it means a life of treatment, fatigue, side effects, hospitalizations, and complications.

In this way it's similar to diabetes:  With treatment diabetics live for long periods, but have shortened lives due to complications, unstable blood sugars, treatment side effects, and such.

There are 1.6 million new diabetics each year.  That's one every 20 seconds.  And about one in four don't know it.

Despite being 25 times more common, and having a greater percentage of undiagnosed cases, public health initiatives to control and treat diabetes have given modest results.  The Women's Breast Health initiative of the 90's also had limited success, but has receded from the public's interest.  AIDS, as a disease with behavioral components to its spread, will pose additional challenges to control.

I'm hopeful that the President's new initiative will improve care and reduce the incidence of HIV.  Whether it succeeds as well or better than efforts with other diseases will depend on how they go about it.

Doc D

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