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AIDS 'Donor Fatigue' In San Francisco: Optimism Potentially Hurting Funding, Prevention (PHOTOS)

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Advancements in AIDS research have revealed some optimistic findings in the past few years. But for a handful of San Francisco fundraising organizations, that optimism may be doing more harm than good.

According to the San Francisco Business Times, local fundraising organizations have reported "donor fatigue" among supporters--a phenomenon in which people no longer contribute to organizations.

"People think AIDS is no longer an emergency because it has become a manageable disease," said Jonathan Faulk of the AIDS Emergency Fund to Renee Frojo of the San Francisco Business Times.

The result has been a worrying lull in funding, both for further research and for prevention and support for those currently battling the disease.

Over the past decade, AIDS researchers have indeed made some unbelievable advancements.

In 2007, a man was pronounced "cured" of HIV after a blood stem cell transplant—the first successful report in history. After five years, he is still clear of the virus.

Furthermore, advances in treatment have made it possible for those infected to live long and relatively healthy lives.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, UCSF's Dr. Diane Havlir, the San Francisco HIV/AIDS Division Chair and host of the 2012 International AIDS Conference, said that we had reached "the beginning of the end of the AIDS epidemic."

However, even with such an optimistic statement, Havlir noted that there is still an enormous amount of work to be done, a reminder that "the beginning of the end" is still just a beginning.

"Now, seven million people are on [HIV/AIDS] therapy, but it's not enough," she told HuffPost. "We need to double that number in the next few years. This is the moment we need to step up."

Furthermore, even with seemingly miraculous advancements, there are still at least 34 million infected worldwide and no inexpensive way to administer treatment.

With widespread optimism also comes another fear: cavalier attitudes towards protection.

HuffPost reported Wednesday that California STD rates have increased dramatically in the past year, with a whopping 18 percent spike in new Syphilis cases. While the Health Department explained that there is no "smoking gun" to explain the increases, a relax in prevention could be to blame.

And these attitudes are not unique to California.

South African journalist Khopotso Bodibe outlined this phenomenon in an article about a global dip in AIDS funding March.

"There is a real problem, globally," said Peter Benjamin of the People's Health Movement to Bodibe in the article. "This is almost starting to be seen as a problem that has been resolved, which it isn't."

See photos of the 2012 San Francisco AIDS Walk, the city's largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser, in the slideshow below:

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Filed by Robin Wilkey