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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 4 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 40
First-ever AIDS Cure Day scheduled
Section One
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First-ever AIDS Cure Day scheduled

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The AIDS Policy Project has declared this Saturday, October 5, to be the first annual AIDS Cure Day.

According to officials, the past few years have seen major breakthroughs in the search for a cure for AIDS, with 19 people identified as either cured or 'in remission' at major medical meetings such as the July, 2013, International AIDS Conference in Kuala Lumpur.

'In remission' is a term used when a treatment has allowed a patient's immune system to keep the virus at bay without medication.

The AIDS Policy Project has asked people living with AIDS and their allies to hold small, informal teach-ins on AIDS cure research and activism on or around October 5. Several dozen events will take place across the U.S. and in a number of developing countries, including Burma, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

The goal of the event is to increase public awareness and support for the effort to find a cure for AIDS.

HALF GET TREATMENT
Currently, 34 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, with only half of those who need treatment able to access it, according to the policy organization HealthGAP. Treatment is paid for by wealthy governments, but the funding for it varies according to political will.

'People with access to AIDS treatment in developing countries may not have it tomorrow. And people living with AIDS need to take an expensive pill every day for the rest of their lives or they'll die,' said AIDS Policy Project member Jose Demarco.

The United States spends $25 billion each year on domestic and foreign AIDS programs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. It currently spends $56.4 million on AIDS cure research, mostly at the National Institutes of Health. 'We need treatment to keep people alive, but a cure is a sustainable way to end the AIDS epidemic,' said Demarco.

Says Kate Krauss, executive director of the AIDS Policy Project, 'We want to teach people what we know so far in the search for a cure for AIDS. We've made gigantic progress, but we need the resources and political will to reach this goal. It's ironic that AIDS Cure Day will take place when the National Institutes of Health will still likely be shut down. They are the biggest funder of AIDS cure research in the world. The NIH has a red warning box on their home page (www.nih.gov) explaining that they have been shut down because the government has been closed down.'

FUNDING LEVELS DROPPING
Because the science has had breakthroughs just in the past few years, private funding is also lagging behind, officials say.

'The science has made great progress in just the past few years - so many foundations aren't yet aware of it. Philanthropists could be pivotal in actually curing AIDS,' said Krauss. Of the $80 million spent on AIDS cure research worldwide, less than $2 million comes from philanthropic sources. 'This is the moment to step up and participate if you've ever cared about ending the AIDS crisis,' she added.

Avram Finkelstein, a well-known artist who did work for activists in the 1980s (including the AIDS group ACT UP), has contributed art to the project, which can be downloaded here:

http://www.mediafire.com/folder/e9v9a7y2wvx9v/AIDS_Cure_Day_Poster%2C_Graphics

Information on the AIDS Policy Project and AIDS Cure Day can be found at www.aidspolicyproject.org.

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