HIV-AIDS AWARENESS

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AIDS: Ignorance is not bliss

On World AIDS Day today, it is important to cite two shocking truths. First, one in three people in the world`s major industrialised countries "know little or nothing" about the deadly HIV/AIDS pandemic and second 25%believe that the problem has been "greatly exaggerated" by the media, a poll said. The survey conducted by global polling firm IPSOS, however, found that 44% respondents, including 50%in the US, are prepared to pay more taxes to combat the disease. The disease is estimated to have killed 28 million people in the last 26 years. The Global AIDS Attitudes survey, published by the non-governmental organization World Vision, reveals the awareness and attitudes of population in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, all members of the "Group of Eight" industrialized nations, towards those affected by HIV and AIDS globally. Speaking at the launch of the survey on Thursday, the director of the joint UN programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Bunmi Makinwa underlined that "the more we understand the epidemic, the better we can make policies." Among the main findings of the survey is that the more people know about HIV and AIDS globally, the more concerned they are about the issue and the more compassionate they are towards those directly affected by it. The World Vision "index of concern," a tool for understanding the level of concern each country feels towards the issue, finds that Canada leads the seven nations surveyed for the highest level of empathy its residents feel toward those affected by HIV and AIDS globally, with Japan ranking last. The others in order are France, Germany, US, Italy and UK. 59% Indians think AIDS is curable: Study New Delhi: As the world observes Saturday as World AIDS Day, India continues to be plagued by paradoxical and half-baked information on the 21st century`s gravest health hazard, making the disease deadlier, says a new study. Paradoxical though it might appear, a new global study says: "While 79 percent of Indians understand AIDS is always fatal, 59 percent still wrongly believe there is a cure for it available today." The study was conducted by the MAC AIDS Fund, the philanthropic arm of Estée Lauder-owned pharmaceutical major MAC Cosmetics in September 2007 in nine countries, including the US and Britain. As per the study, although Indians generally recognise HIV/AIDS as the most serious health problem facing the country today, confusion and misperceptions about the disease reign here. The study said that Indians generally complained of lack of access to information on various aspects of the disease, including how it is spread. As per the study, 65 percent of Indians attach a sense of shame and stigma with the disease, which contributes to the threat of it acquiring an epidemic proportion. "This is a wake-up call that not only do we need to improve basic education about the realities of the disease - including how it is contracted and how it is treated - we also need to do some serious on-the-ground work to alleviate the sense of shame and stigma that surrounds the disease and prevents people from being safe and seeking treatment," he added. US lauds India`s success in fighting AIDS Washington: As US President George W. Bush renewed a pledge to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, the White House commended "some very successful programmes in India" with a significant increase in resources. "The pandemic of HIV/AIDS can be defeated" through international cooperative efforts such as his President`s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), said Bush on the eve of World AIDS Day. HIV is still the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa, he said, citing Bush`s statement that the Americans are supporting 1.36 million people receiving antiretroviral therapy, and care for 6.7 million people, including 2.7 million orphans and vulnerable children.

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