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Focusing On The AIDS Fight

Aug 5, 2008

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Sarah Handel

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I primarily commute to and from work on the bus, and said bus is generally laden with public health placards. Whatever the p.o.v. of the placard in question, fear tactics are the fashion — a round, zoned out kid playing video games headlined with "the couch kills," a circle of kids playing ring around the rosie reads something like, "When the game ends and they all fall down, everyone hops back up again except Sarah... Sarah doesn't have health insurance.*" There's one poster, however, that I remember with crystal clarity: "One in twenty D.C. residents has HIV." Holy cow — now that's a sobering statistic. And it's been that way for years. New national HIV numbers are out, and unfortunately, the news isn't good. Turns out, the CDC has been underestimating the number of cases significantly, though the rate of infection has remained fairly constant. There's also a lot of new information on which populations are most affected. We want to know more about the people behind the numbers, specifically. Black people account for 45% of new infections, but why? And, infections are particularly high in the South — what's going on there? NPR's Brenda Wilson and Dr. Robert Johnson, who treats HIV positive teens, join us today to get at the stories behind the numbers.

*Ok, it's probably a bit zippier than that. Forgive me — one, I'm not in advertising, and there's a reason for that. Two, I see these placards either before I've had my coffee or at the end of a long day, so I'm doing the best I can here.

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