HIV and AIDS in the United States
The United States has made progress in slowing the growth of HIV/AIDS within its borders. New HIV infections, which total about 35,000 annually, are well below the 150,000 a year reported in the 1980s at the peak of the U.S. epidemic. The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that, between 1981 and 2006, nearly 100,000 Americans were diagnosed with AIDS. Of those diagnosed, about half remained alive, mainly thanks to early HIV diagnoses and new, effective treatment methods.
However, the rate of HIV infection has begun to rise again. The CDC estimates that 1.1 million people in the United States were living with HIV at the end of 2006. The majority of those people (65.4 percent) were nonwhite. In fact, the infection was 7.6 times more common for African-Americans and 2.6 times more common for Hispanics than it was for whites. Furthermore, nearly half of those afflicted were men who had engaged in sexual behavior with other men.
Thus, the crisis in the U.S. is still severe. Moreover, its effects on educators have been particularly harsh. Indeed, 50 percent of AFT members live and work in the U.S. communities that are hit hardest by HIV infections.
AFT Members Helping
Many AFT members are educators who can help to make
the case for HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and treatment. In addition, members
can help one another through programs operating at the union local level. For
instance, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in New York City instituted a
program in the early 1990s that assists members who have been infected with or
affected by the disease.