Viewpoint: Help alleviate global AIDS epidemic

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    The Thursday New York Times (March 29) front page headline read “AIDS obstacles overwhelm a small South African town.”

    The same headline could indicate most towns in that country and throughout Africa.

    AIDS is slowly killing an entire nation, and too many people are ignoring the problem as they are enmeshed in their lives of convenience and wealth. However, if Americans do nothing, the AIDS epidemic will wipe out the entire continent.

    And it will not stop with Africa. India, China and perhaps the United States are all in line to partake of the deadly disease.

    Although it holds only 10 percent of the world population, more that 70 percent of AIDS victims reside in Sub-Saharan Africa. The plague is astronomical and rapidly growing.

    Within Africa, 25.3 million individuals carry AIDS or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and the numbers are growing exponentially.

    An African myth has led many men to believe that if they have sex with a virgin, they would be healed from AIDS. Every 26 seconds a woman in South Africa is raped.

    By the time you finish reading this, at least half a dozen women will have been raped, many of those infected. Those who die from AIDS leave behind millions of orphans. They either reside with their overburdened extended family or are left to fend for themselves, often becoming responsible for younger siblings.

    The AIDS problem is global. It will not go away. America has the means to address the issue, and unless it does, an entire continent will be destroyed, and millions of innocent lives will be lost.

    Africa does not have to die. Many of the children can be saved, those who have not yet been infected can be educated to stay safe and the pain of those who are suffering can be alleviated. Individuals can help.

    Organizations around the country are dedicated to help cure or at least alleviate the AIDS epidemic. One organization asks only that you leave your pocket change in a cup each day and then donate the measly, but potentially life saving money.

    Everyone can do something — no matter how small or large

    The government should take action as well. Our leaders are not doing enough. Close to $14 billion was spent on the Kosvo crisis. Nothing close to that has yet been spent in Africa.

    It seems that since the United States has no immediate political or economical interests in Africa, human suffering is irrelevant. However, if the government does not cut in, the African AIDS pandemic will no doubt come back to haunt the United States.

    Almost $100 billion was spent to help Europe recover from WWII and now we will only give Africa $1 billion loan when their orphan population has already reached Europe’s orphan count at the end of the WWII.

    It is time that America and Americans carry the responsibility we have been given with our prosperity and make small sacrifices.

    Let us use our pocket books and our time to improve and save the lives of sick adults and suffering children.

    The time is now, before the bodies of Africans haunt our minds forever.

    We will all have to ask ourselves why we stood by and did nothing while millions were suffering and dying.

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