|Posted by Nancy Draper on November 19, 2011 at 10:35 PM|
I enjoyed being a guest on the KLAV radio show, "Conversations with Cogee" in Las Vegas, NV on 9-26-2011. I applaud Cogee for bringing this subject back into the limelight. We need more media coverage of this vicious virus that continues to infect more people each day. There is a way out through HIV testing, AIDS education in high schools, and community education for people of all ages. AIDS is a preventable disease. Radio and television must take an active role in reporting this pandemic. We can certainly lessen the infections through proper education.
On the show, I spoke about my book, "A Burden of Silence: My Mother's Battle with AIDS." She was a grandmother of six when she was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 66. She was infected through a contaminated blood transfusion during heart bypass surgery in 1983. She kept her illness a secret because she feared rejection. Mom died of an AIDS related illness at the age of 69.
Even though there was no official blood test at that time to screen for HIV, the CDC requested the FDA to test for hepatitis b core antibodies in the blood of donors. Unfortunately, they ignored the request.
At the request of Congress, a study was conducted by the Institute of Medicine. The study determined that "blood became a vector for HIV infection in the early and mid-1980s and caused more than half of the 16,000 hemophiliacs and over 12,000 blood transfusions recipients to contract AIDS."
The report stated that the Food and Drug Administration had been negligent and failed to protect the blood supply by not implementing screening options. These screening options were recommended by the Centers for Disease Control in 1983. This should never have happened. As my U.S. Congressman stated, "The government made a mistake."
Today, the blood supply is much safer due to the proper testing. Still, many people, both young and old, still don't know all the facts about HIV/AIDS or just don't take it seriously. Some don't bother using a condom during sexual intercourse. They think it won't happen to them. They don't bother to get tested if they shared needles or engaged in risky sexual behavior. Then the virus spreads to others they come in contact with through sexual relations.
There is an end to the pandemic if people act responsibly. We must all work together to help educate about HIV/AIDS. If you are a parent, get educated and talk to your children before it's too late.
Our country failed to respond to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. It took a movie star, Rock Hudson, to get our nation's attention. Then we lost Ryan White to AIDS due to blood products.
AIDS doesn't discriminate and we should NOT discriminate against people with AIDS. It can happen to babies, teenagers, young mothers and fathers, and people of all ages. AIDS is an equal opportunity disease.
My mission is to educate as many people as I can about the dangers of sharing intravenous drug needles and engaging in unprotected sexual behavior. I don't want to see any more lives lost to AIDS. World AIDS Day is coming up on December 1. This date will mark 30 YEARS OF AIDS. Let's take time to remember all those blood transfusion recipients lost to AIDS as well as all those who have died or are living with HIV.
We must not forget this happened. History will judge us on how we responded to the AIDS pandemic. So far, it won't judge us kindly. Let's turn that around on December 1, 2011. WE have the power to make a difference!