40 million people and climbing. Five million in 2005 alone. The infection rate of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Today is World AIDS Day, a day of recognition and action to unite the world in our fight against this global epidemic. Gatherings will be occurring worldwide to remember those who have died, the millions now infected and the countless who stand at risk of infection.
AIDS is an enemy that knows no boundaries, discriminates against no one and unites us all. What began as a misunderstood disease more than 20 years ago has evolved into something that affects nearly all of us. Today the epidemic is on the rampage in Africa, infecting more than 25 million adults and children, according to the National AIDS Trust, with more than 2 million deaths from AIDS in 2005. America and Colorado have not escaped the disease's wrath.
According to statistics provided by the Colorado Aids Project, as of one year ago 14,666 people had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in Colorado. Almost 4,500 people have died as a result of AIDS with another 310 having succumbed to symptoms as a result of their HIV infection. It is estimated that nearly 10,000 people are currently living with HIV/AIDS in our state, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The same department estimates that the number may be as high as 15,000, as one in every four people infected are unaware that they carry the disease.
Minorities in Colorado are at particular risk of infection. Although Blacks make up only 4 percent of the state's population, they reported more than 19 percent of Colorado's new AIDS cases in the previous year, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Likewise, Hispanics reported nearly 23 percent of new AIDS cases while compromising only 17 percent of the population. Nationwide, minorities account for 71 percent of all new AIDS cases, according to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Nationally there are an estimated 850,000 to 950,000 people living with HIV, according to the Center for Disease Control. The stereotypical transmission of the disease no longer applies to our country. In 1985 an estimated 3 percent of transmissions were attributed to heterosexual encounters, that number has risen to 31 percent as of last year (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation).
The Collegian would like to encourage all of its readers to reflect today on this terrible disease and how it affects our lives. There will be a candlelight vigil tonight at the Lory Student Center for community members to mourn, celebrate and remember all those who have been affected by this disease. The Collegian will continue our coverage of World AIDS Day tomorrow with more in-depth coverage and analysis of AIDS and how it affects the world we all share together.