Literacy and Learning
33.3 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, including an estimated 1 million people in the United States and over 10,000 in Connecticut. Our state ranks among the highest in per capita rates of infection, new HIV diagnoses, and AIDS among women and persons 50 years of age or older. Behind each of these numbers is a person. Learn more and help stop the epidemic!
HIV or ‘human immunodeficiency virus’ is a retrovirus that weakens the human immune system by infecting and impairs function in key cellular components (primarily the CD4 positive T cells and macrophages). This virus deteriorates the immune system, and hinders the body’s ability to combat outside infection and disease. AIDS or ‘acquired immunodeficiency syndrome’ is a term that describes that later stages of HIV. After the body has experienced certain symptoms, infections, cancers and signs associated with this immune deficiency they are considered to have reached this phase.
HIV is located in human bodily fluids; blood, breast milk, semen and vaginal fluids. It is transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected individual, shared use of needles and syringes, during pregnancy or breastfeeding and through blood transfusions.
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. In recent years substantial improvements have been made to antiretroviral drugs which have made them more effective at slowing the production of HIV in the body. Subsequently, these medications allow people living with HIV/AIDS to have longer and higher quality lives.
From Global to Local
According to the December 2009 UNAIDS report, 33.3 million people worldwide are estimated to be living with HIV, half of which are women. South Africa, Nigeria and India currently have the highest HIV rates globally, but this is not a disease that impacts only the developing world, it reaches across every corner of our planet. There has been a 19% decrease in new infections since the estimated peak in the epidemic in 1999, so substantial progress is being made. It is critical that these support systems continue and increase to accommodate and fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The Center for Disease Control reports that over 1 million Americans are currently living with HIV/AIDS. Antiretroviral drugs have increased the length and quality of life, however, the rate of infection in the United States is high with over 56,300 Americans becoming infected with HIV annually. Additionally, 1 in 5 people (21%) are unaware of their current status.
According to the CT Department of Public Health Connecticut 10,574 people are living with HIV/AIDS in 2009. Since the beginning of this epidemic, there have been over 20,000 reported cases in CT alone. The state is ranked 7th in the nation for AIDS cases per capita.
The Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Studies on AIDS recently reported that HIV is disproportionately affecting minority groups; 32% of HIV+ individuals are black, 32% Hispanic and the remaining 34% are white. In recent years the question of whether race or poverty has more to do with the transmission of HIV/AIDS, because along with poverty comes decreased education and healthcare access.
Urban areas in Connecticut (specifically Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport) have disproportionately higher infection rates and a larger number of people living with HIV/AIDS. The CT Department of Public Health reports that in Hartford 1,977 residents were living with the disease in 2009.Half of all individuals in the state of Connecticut living with HIV are living in Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.
Beyond the physical impact that HIV/AIDS has one a person, it can also impact a person’s mental state, socio-economic status, employment, income, housing, quality health care and mobility. Poverty, lack of education and limited access to healthcare are a few of the underlying issues of HIV/AIDS in the world. Educating those at-risk and improving the quality of life for those with HIV is a priority for those interested in joining the cause.
From Local to Global
On the global level, literacy is improving but still remains a major problem. In 2000, according to UNESCO, the global illiteracy rate had fallen to 20.3% from 36.6% in 1970, and was estimated to drop to 15% by 2015. This improvement is most drastically seen in women, where illiteracy rates plunged from 44.6% to 25.8% over the same 30 year period, with a predicted drop to 19% by 2015. Women still make up more of the illiterate than men; about two-thirds of all illiterate adults worldwide are women, according to the CIA World Factbook. The problem remains particularly grave in sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of Asia, especially south Asia and the Middle East. Illiteracy rates in these regions remain around a staggering 40%, though this has dropped significantly from the approximately 70% illiteracy rate of 1970. While the progress we see worldwide is fantastic, it remains unacceptable that so many millions are still unable to read and write.
Peter’s Retreat is a supportive housing community owned and operated by HOH. It is currently the home for 27 men and women living with HIV/AIDS and 9 off-site apartments. Residents receive 24 hour care, case management and medical assistance. This is one of the few housing facilities of its kind in Connecticut; it houses 30% of the states population of HIV+ individuals seeking housing and 60% of HIV+ Hartford citizens seeking housing. Peter’s Retreat addresses both the homelessness associated with HIV/AIDS and gives residents a solid support system in both staff and other residents to reduce harm and improve the quality of life for residents. Hands on Hartford offer several ways to get involved with the issue of HIV/AIDS. Check our project calendar to find a service opportunity that fits your schedule and interest!
The above information was taken from the following sources. Click on the links
to learn more: Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition (CARC), Center for Disease Control, CT Department of Health, and Yale Center of Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS