Editorial: AIDS continues to be a serious public threat

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 1, 2005

On World AIDS Day, it behooves us to learn as much as we can about the virus, and not forget that it is still a serious threat to our society.

While it seems the talk about HIV and AIDS has taken a back burner to many other societal ills, too many people contract the disease or die each year. Consider the following global statistics:

– 4.9 million new cases of HIV were reported in 2005.

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Of that number, 4.2 million are adults and 700,000 are children under the age of 15.

– AIDS deaths in 2005 were 3.1 million. Of that number, 2.6 million were adults and 570,000 were children under the age of 15.

– Total HIV cases to date is 64.3 million

– Total AIDS deaths to date is 23.1 million

There are four ways to contract AIDS: through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner; sharing needles or other contaminated injection or skin-piercing equipment; blood and blood-byproducts such as transfusions and organ or tissue transplants; and transmission from an infected mother to child in the womb or at birth, and breastfeeding.

The best defense against HIV and AIDS is education and smart decision-making. Know how to protect yourself and always talk to your children about the dangers of the disease and how to avoid contracting it.

Talking to kids about their sexual decision-making and when they choose to have sex, and all its potential consequences will arm them with the information they need to make safe choices.

While HIV and AIDS may not be on the front pages, don’t be lulled into thinking it isn’t a threat &045; be informed.