A day to remember

Thirty years ago, becoming infected with the human immunodeficiency virus was a death sentence. Today, AIDS is not curable, but people can survive it if they have access to the necessary medications.

Yesterday was the anniversary of World AIDS Day. The good news is that on a worldwide level, the spread of the disease has decreased.

The bad news is that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, created a decade ago, does not have the usual and necessary funds, since the European crisis struck its main donor nations. Countries in Africa, the hardest hit continent, will not have the support they used to have, which had such a positive impact despite corruption complaints involving some regimes.

In the U.S., there have been notable scientific advances in the field. Nevertheless, given this outlook, the Latino community, like the African-American community, continues to be disproportionately affected by the disease.

Latinos account for one out of every five new HIV cases, an index three times higher than that of whites. Estimates show that out of a total of 1.1 million people suffering from HIV, 205,000 are Latinos.

On top of this, the language barrier and the serious problem of being uninsured increase the challenges the Latino community faces. Because of the lack of health insurance coverage, patients often do not see the doctor until the disease is too advanced to be controlled with treatment.

Time goes on, but the weapons to combat this disease are still the same, although not any less efficient. Information, education and access to condoms, to a healthy lifestyle and to health care (including prevention and HIV screening tests) are fundamental to avoid the spread of the disease.