Children's Health Issues to Watch: AIDS: A Push for Prevention
AIDS: A Push for Prevention
With the AIDS epidemic in its 25th year, there is a growing understanding of just how far-reaching the disease has become ― and of the need to prevent HIV infection and to screen kids for it early on.
Much progress has been made in understanding and treating HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but the epidemic is still spreading worldwide. Within the next 25 years, AIDS is likely to join heart disease and stroke as the top 3 causes of death worldwide, with an estimated 120 million people dying of the disease in that period, according to a recent study. In the United States, half of all new HIV infections occur in those ages 13 to 24. And as many as a quarter of those living with HIV and AIDS don't know they're infected. To address that and help stem the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2006 recommended that all teens and adults ― from ages 13 to 64 ― get tested for HIV as part of routine medical care. Meanwhile, physician groups are stepping up to do more testing and provide more education about the risks of sexual activity and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
What to Watch:
The number of HIV/AIDS cases has grown from a relative few 25 years ago to many millions ― and that number is likely to continue to rise until an effective immunization is developed and disseminated. Huge swaths of humanity are being devastated and whole nations hollowed out. Education and other preventive methods, as well as better and more affordable treatments, can slow the spread and reduce the number of new cases. But the AIDS crisis is far from over.
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