Originally published on Wed August 22, 2012 5:15 am
Fewer boys are being circumcised these days, and that could add to health costs down the road.
Over the past two decades, circumcision rates in the U.S. have fallen to 55 percent from a peak of about 79 percent. Insurance coverage for the procedure has also fallen — particularly under Medicaid — and is a factor in the decline.
The Obama administration last week announced nearly $80 million in grants to increase access to AIDS care across the United States. But will the money be enough to eliminate waiting lists for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program?
Advocates aren't sure. The program, known as ADAP, provides a safety net for people with HIV who have no means of paying for the drugs they need to fight the virus.
When Ruben Bermudez, 31, found out that he had HIV more than a decade ago, he didn't want to take his medicine. He went on treatment for a few weeks, but said the intensive pill regimen made him feel dizzy.
He stopped treatment and tried to ignore the diagnosis, moving to Florida from Washington in pursuit of sunshine. In 2008, he learned that one of his best friends died of a brain tumor that couldn't be treated because his immune system has been debilitated by AIDS. Bermudez realized that his only chance at a relatively healthy life would depend on taking pills daily.
One of the alarming consequences of the financial crisis in Greece appears to be a sharp rise in the rate of HIV infection.
The country, which is struggling through a historic debt crisis and a deep recession, still has one of the lowest HIV infection rates in Europe. But budget cuts to health and social services seem to be driving a recent and dramatic increase, especially among injecting drug users.
The province of KwaZulu-Natal has emerged as the epicenter of South Africa's HIV epidemic. South Africa already has more people infected with HIV than any other country in the world, but parts of KwaZulu-Natal have HIV rates that are more than twice the national average.
Now in addition to HIV and AIDS, the province is also dealing with a major tuberculosis epidemic.
In the northeastern part of KwaZulu-Natal, dusty dirt tracks wind through pastures and fields of sugar cane. The hillsides are dotted with small huts made of cinder blocks and field stones.