Title: We Shall Overcome
Category: Access To Children's Health Care
"We shall overcome." That is the title of a recent article on AIDS and how we might approach it in PLNA Medical Journal. AIDS continues to run rampant around the world and is expected to affect some twenty million people by the year 2,000. That number is tentative and it could even double that. Globally, we have about 500 thousand children who have been affected by AIDS. What can we do to insure adequate care for these children and to try to reverse this horrible plague which is unlike anything we have seen since the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages. First we must educate our young of the real risks of catching AIDS. Surprisingly the group which is developing AIDS fastest right now is heterosexual teenagers. Statistics indicate that 2/3 of adolescents between age 15 and 19 are sexually active. About 1/5 of all AIDS cases in America today are in people in their 20's. Every day in Louisiana, four teenagers catch AIDS and don't know it. At present the lifetime cost of caring for an AIDS patient is approximately $100,000. This probably will balloon even higher unless we come up with some creative ways of providing easier access to care, quicker treatment with medicines, cheaper medicines and a more user-friendly system for all of the many AIDS cases which are constantly popping up. We need to do this through smarter use of local, state and national facilities that work together.
One excellent way of controlling the high cost of caring for these millions of AIDS patients is through home health care, hospice care, and other outpatient care programs. I believe there is always hope even with apparently hopeless diseases and I believe we will cure AIDS in my lifetime. In the meantime we should do everything we can to help AIDS patients maintain whatever quality of life they can, for as long as they can.
Children with AIDS are not at risk to anyone except through direct blood contamination and should be allowed to go to school and be treated with respect and love. Only through education may we accomplish this goal. I hope in the future more and more doctors will get involved in public education so that the stigma of AIDS and the irrational fears might be erased. Please join me in spreading the truth and helping to better address this problem which will continue to face all of us for a long time.