Today is World AIDS Day
. I was asked by someone on what people should do on this day. The topic of activism came up and the following is what I said. I usually do not add such things to this database, but I am doing so to place a stake in this point in history. Perhaps some time in the future people can look at this and laugh, or if things become worse, cry.
Activism is one of the main problems in curing AIDS. Okay, that sounds a little weird, and it's not 100% truthful, so I should explain. Of the 40 million infected, nearly 30 million are in sub-Saharan Africa, 6 million in southeast Asia; 95 percent of the infected live in the world's poorest countries. There is little incentive to find a cure, because these people simply cannot pay the costs of a drug for the pharmaceutical corporation to break even or pull a better profit than "safe" drugs. "Safe" in the sense that R&D costs will be definitely compensated for, such as Viagra and Claritin.
The stigma of AIDS being a queer disease is still around, but it has been surpassed by the notion that AIDS is a poor disease. This leads to the extrapolation that poor = ignorant = stupid = deserving. This is a major hindrance to activists since their pleas of "help the innocent" transform in the minds of many people into "help the poor uncivilized people of Africa."
When activists clamor for the large, evil multinational corporations to make AIDS medicine affordable or gratis to these poor people, they are only hurting the cause. Why would a corporation with a bottom line pump millions of dollars into developing a drug with no profit? Well, the answer is clear: research and development of AIDS medicines has dropped anywhere from 5 to 30% in the past decade.
This is quite unfortunate, considering AIDS is passing the Black Plague in terms of death toll and historic signifigance. The problem is it's affecting the people most people do not care enough about. Almost everyone in the First World knows someone who had some form of cancer, but how many can claim to know someone who has AIDS? Right now, cancer is more lucrative simply because the people that are affected are the ones that can afford the drugs.
That is AIDS activism's biggest problem. The fact that AIDS is making gains in the First World should be capitalized on. Pharmaceutical companies need to be encouraged to continue and increase spending on research and development. I think AIDS is a problem that will eventually bite us in the ass, and this point in time is an important juncture in doing something about it.