November 2016 \ News \ MIND AND BODY
HIV/AIDS - The Great Magnifier of Maladies - is Entirely Preventable

Many persons throughout the world do not believe that there is still a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic and that the epidemics of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and HIV stigma still exist. As we will see,

By Mary Ann Adler Cohen, MD

Each year, 2.1 million persons are newly infected with HIV and 1.1 million persons die of AIDS-related deaths. Worldwide, 59% of persons with HIV are not accessing treatment. These numbers cannot even begin to reflect the suffering and anguish experienced by persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. By understanding the complex factors involved with attaining a goal of a world free of HIV and AIDS we can work together to address the dilemma of the tragic spread of this manageable chronic and severe illness and to ensure that persons with HIV receive competent and compassionate care until a vaccine and a cure are developed.

If lupus, multiple sclerosis, malaria, Lyme disease, and syphilis are “The Great Masqueraders” because many of their symptoms are similar to those of other illnesses, HIV/AIDS is “The Great Magnifier” of both illness and aspects of health care. HIV magnifies disparities, stigma, and discrimination in health care, and leads to both transmission and lack of access to care. As long as HIV is stigmatized, persons who have risk behaviors or suspect that they have HIV will fear discrimination or ostracism and may delay or avoid getting tested, being diagnosed, disclosing HIV to potential partners, or accessing care.