Today is World AIDS Day. The current World AIDS Day Campaign theme is Universal Access and Human Rights. Universal access includes the right to care, treatment and prevention. The Harm Reduction Coalition issued this World AIDS day statement:
"Responses to both the domestic and the global HIV/AIDS epidemics among people who inject drugs face similar challenges: drug-related stigma that underpins repressive policies, lack of political will, and limited funding. Moreover, access to care and treatment remains limited for HIV+ drug users, who face multiple obstacles to obtaining antiretroviral therapy along with the associated health risks of hepatitis C, tuberculosis, and overdose. The 2010 World AIDS Day theme of Universal Access and Human Rights has a special urgency for people who use drugs, signifying an unrealized promise and demanding immediate action. The Harm Reduction Coalition calls upon governments and civil society to recommit to making Universal Access and Human Rights a reality for all people who use drugs as a necessary foundation for ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic."
Dr. David Lakey, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services reminds us in a special article to the Star-Telegram that 1 out of every 387 Texans are HIV-infected. The rate of new HIV infections in Texas is stable, but not decreasing. In addition, Texas is a late to diagnose state: 1 in 3 people diagnosed with HIV will progress to AIDS within a year. Dr. Lakey urges 'know your status; protect each other.'
Syringe exchange is the second most effective intervention at reducing HIV transmission, next to only PMTCT (prevention of mother-to-child transmission). Yet, Texas continues to remain one of the only states in which access to sterile syringes is prohibited, which gets in the way of preventing new infections and saving lives. Please take a moment today to remember loved ones lost and continue to commemorate them by supporting sensible disease prevention programs that will protect others from needless pain and suffering.