Searchlight, NV - Each day, more than 8,000 lives are lost to AIDS. Over 21 million people have lost their battles with this deadly disease since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic over 20 years ago and this year the number of people living with HIV and AIDS globally hit 40 million in 2005. Not only is this figure about the number of HIV infections at the highest level ever, the epidemic continues to spread and cut across lines of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and income. Today, World AIDS Day, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement:
“World AIDS Day is about hope. Reflecting on lives lost to HIV/AIDS makes us remember that the numbers have very real faces behind them. We need greater support from the Administration and Congress for prevention programs, like the National Family Planning Program (Title X), to help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. We need to support full funding for global and domestic AIDS initiatives. For Americans living with HIV/AIDS, it is especially crucial to resist President Bush’s call for severe funding cuts to Medicaid, the federal-state partnership that serves approximately 55% of all persons living with AIDS and up to 90% of all children with AIDS.
“Last year alone, Nevada had the second highest AIDS case rate in the western United States and increasingly more Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans are becoming part of the epidemic.
“In combination with ongoing public awareness campaigns, World AIDS Day highlights not just these efforts to step up our work against HIV/AIDS. We are reminded that we need to take action to make a difference, as well. And for that, it is my privilege today to recognize everyone in the global effort to defeat HIV/AIDS and to reaffirm our commitment to the goals behind World AIDS Day.”