Annet Mbabazi is living with HIV, but her 18-month-old son, Pobruce, is HIV-free. I met the mother-baby pair at the health center in Ibanda District, in Southwestern Uganda, where Annet participates in a family support group.
AIDS is as much a social disease as it is one determined by a virus. It is simply not possible to prevent, treat or cure it without understanding and addressing its social dimensions. For this, we need the tools of the social sciences.
One only needs to think for a moment about SARS and HIV-AIDS and try not to shudder. It's not just about health, it's also about how it affects economies and national security. Governments cannot carry the burden of viruses and disease by themselves.
In a speech last Tuesday, the Fiji High Commissioner to the United Kingdom maintained that "the (U.S.) and China to Pacific Islanders represent two sides of the same coin." Yet, his remarks expressed far more criticism of western engagement in the region than that of China.
This World AIDS Day is a celebration of the achievements that have been made and the acceleration of progress in recent years, providing proof that ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic is not only feasible but achievable.
The stigma associated with HIV is only partially to blame. More problematic is the difficulty of reaching the most vulnerable members of the U.S. population who are living with HIV but unaware of their status: racial and ethnic minorities, the poor and disenfranchised, and people who are homeless.
History shows when we take action before the peak of disaster, enormous gains can be realized. If more world leaders support a bold plan like the "Blueprint for an AIDS-Free Generation," we could find ourselves on the flip side of the global disaster of AIDS that much faster.