It is time to take a step back from the disease, the science, and the medicine, and take a close look at how HIV/AIDS impacts the people. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has transformed into one of the fastest, most deadly, epidemics of the last 100 years. However, unlike other infectious epidemics of the past, HIV/AIDS epidemic has disproportionately targeted and destroyed the lives of the most impoverished and underprivileged within society.
Why is this?
It is not like a disease can be racist or homophobic, however, from the looks of it, HIV/AIDS is not a disease which strikes unbiasedly. Viruses don’t have eyes to see societal differences, but doctors, health care workers, and society do. So this is the reason that the most marginalized members of society are primarily the ones most heavily burdened by HIV/AIDS.
The major challenge behind HIV/AIDS is not that it is an impossible disease to cure, thanks to incredible improvements with medications and treatments, but instead the societal wide challenge in providing adequate healthcare to the most underserved and socially challenged.
At the end of 2015 statistics stated that there were 36.7 million people thought the world living with HIV. Of this 36.7 million only 18.2 million have access to antiretroviral therapy. That means that over half of HIV/AIDS infected individuals live without treatment, destined to a short life, immense suffering, and inevitable early death.
With over half of the infected individuals living without treatment, it is time to reassess what challenges lay behind access to health. With HIV/AIDS, similar to many other health issues, the poor tend to be underrepresented and thrown to the sidelines when it comes to care. It seems as though only meaningful policy action occurs when it is the wealthy who suffer and need improvements in care. Changes are slow to commence when the ones suffering have no voice and thus are forced to remain in the darkness.
How will this cycle of poverty and suffering ever be able to come to an end?
There is no simple answer to this question, however, the only way a societal wide movement will begin, is if people across all spans of society stand together and show their compassion. Compassion and advocating for those without the ability to do so themselves will create a culture which cares for the marginalized opposed to pushing them away.