Dec. 1 was World AIDS Day. It is estimated that over 33 million people are living with HIV or AIDS worldwide. In the United States, there are 56,300 new HIV infections annually. These devastating statistics show us how far we have left to go to address this disease.
HIV is not an equal opportunity illness. Women and minorities are at a higher risk for infection. Poverty, lack of access to HIV prevention resources and violence against women are all contributing factors in the unequal spread of this disease.
With a staggering budget deficit this year, our elected officials have difficult decisions to make. I acknowledge that none of those decisions will be easy, but cutting health programs that help those already most at risk of contracting HIV makes no sense. All people deserve access to the information and services that prevent HIV.
I encourage our legislators to preserve critical programs that help prevent HIV transmission. Programs like family planning and maternity support and the great programs supported by the Spokane AIDS Network all help prevent the spread of HIV. We can’t afford to take a step backward in our fight against AIDS. Our community deserves better.
Community Organizer, Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, Spokane