The MMWR of February 3, 1995 announced that 441,528 Americans had been reported to the CDC with AIDS as of December 31, 1994; 81,000 new cases of AIDS were reported in 1994 alone. Thus, during the 12 months of 1994, on average, 6700 new AIDS cases were identified every month. Accordingly, the four hundred and fifty thousandth American AIDS case was probably reported to the CDC shortly after mid-February, 1995.(1)
AIDS statistics are always interesting, but they are only statistics. Transposed into human terms, every AIDS case is an individual, one of God's unique creations, who is either suffering somewhere in America today, or is already dead. In all probability, every AIDS case is going to die within three years of diagnosis. Already, over 250,000 of the reported 450,000 AIDS cases are dead. The remaining 200,000 cases are waiting to die, hoping against hope that some miracle cure will develop, or that their terminal illness will be as painless and merciful as possible.
In human terms, the AIDS epidemic is the greatest tragedy ever to befall our nation. Comparing the numbers of people currently infected with HIV disease in America (and doomed to almost certain death) with the total number of casualties our nation incurred in all of the wars America has ever fought, we will lose far more human lives from those already infected with HIV disease than were lost in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Somalia combined. Tragically, when all those who are infected today have died, it will not mark the end of this epidemic. This epidemic is just beginning. The HIV epidemic in America (and throughout the world) continues to expand its web of tragedy and devastation, spreading silently, and slowly, neither monitored nor controlled. (2)
As you analyze the CDC chart, you will find that the AIDS epidemic is slowly shifting from homosexuals and intravenous drug users into our heterosexual population. In 1985, only 2% of AIDS cases in America were transmitted by heterosexual contact; by 1993, 9.2 % of AIDS cases were heterosexually spread; in 1994, 10.3% of all newly reported AIDS cases were heterosexual in origin. Of course, the spread of HIV disease into our heterosexual community could easily have been predicted a decade ago simply by looking at the world-wide epidemic. HIV disease has always been primarily a heterosexual disease.
The next great wave of infections will be into our black and Hispanic communities. The final wave of the epidemic will permeate the ranks of our adolescents with devastating results.
The AIDS epidemic is already beginning to decimate America's blacks and Hispanics. The CDC's chart (reproduced on page 2) reveals that 39% of all new AIDS cases reported in 1994 occurred within black America. With 10% of America's population being black, these figures demonstrate that AIDS is identified 4 times more frequently among blacks than among whites. Within the Hispanic community, AIDS is occurring twice as frequently among Hispanics as among whites.
This is no time for indifference, however. Now is the time for swift and decisive action. During the early stages of the HIV epidemic, when AIDS was occurring primarily among homosexuals and IV drug users, there was a tendency for white middle-class Americans to sit back smugly, assured that the epidemic was someone else's problem. Most people felt that they didn't have to become involved. I can assure you today that if middle-class Americans continue to ignore this epidemic and the plight of our fellow citizens, God will judge our nation harshly. As you will see shortly, this epidemic is already beginning to spread into our adolescents at a frightening rate. Soon this epidemic will surely touch each of our lives.
As you study the chart, you may question why there were 106,618 new AIDS cases reported in 1993, with only 80,691 new cases in 1994. It almost appears as if the epidemic is decreasing, that perhaps current public health policy is working. Nothing could be further from the truth. The published figures are a statistical aberration caused by the CDC's redefinition of AIDS in 1993. By constantly changing the definition of AIDS, CDC officials have been able to confuse the public, and prevent Americans from realizing the true magnitude of the tragedy of the epidemic. The CDC's redefinition of AIDS in 1993 added anyone with HIV disease and a low CD4 (lymphocyte) count, recurrent pneumonia, tuberculosis, or invasive cervical carcinoma to the previous definition of AIDS. Suddenly, in 1993, a large number of new cases were reported for the first time. Thus, comparing the numbers of AIDS cases from 1993 with the number of cases for 1994 is not as important as comparing the percentages of people in various categories.
The MMWR report of February 3, 1995 informs us that AIDS has now become the primary cause of death in Americans between 25 and 44 years of age.
I would remind you that every person who acquires HIV disease and develops immunodeficiency automatically becomes an incubator for other communicable diseases which can affect both you and other members of your family. The sky-rocketing levels of multiple-drug-resistant tuberculosis, the new viral diseases developing throughout the world, the new drug-resistant forms of bacteria, etc. all threaten the very survival of civilization as we know it. (3)
Professor William Haseltine, Ph.D., Chief of the Division of Human Retrovirology at the Dana-Farber Institute, Professor of the Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Professor of the Department of Cancer Biology, Harvard School of Public Health, has stated: "New epidemics will also arise from the ever expanding population of people with depleted immune function. The population of people with AIDS serves as a reservoir and breeding ground for deadly diseases. For example, the new world-wide epidemic of tuberculosis arises directly from the population of people with AIDS. Unlike AIDS, some of these diseases will not require sexual contact for transmission. As the number of immune-suppressed people grows, it is likely that the world population will suffer multiple, concurrent, lethal epidemics consequent to the AIDS epidemic."(4)
In truth, the AIDS statistics released by the CDC reveal only part of the story. You must understand that AIDS is just the tip of the HIV-infectious iceberg. AIDS is the part of the epidemic that is currently being monitored in our nation. AIDS, however, is not the real epidemic. The real epidemic is HIV disease. Because of the 10-12 year interval between HIV infection and terminal-stage HIV disease (AIDS), the newly released AIDS statistics really tell us only what was happening in the HIV epidemic 10-12 years ago, not what is happening in America today.
We know that there are many thousands of HIV-infected people who have been registered with the CDC from those states where there is some limited form of HIV reportability. These people, however, are not included within current "AIDS statistics". In addition, there are tens of thousands of HIV-infected Americans known to be infected across our land, but they cannot be reported to the CDC because of state "confidentiality laws". In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of other HIV-infected Americans who do not know of their infectious status. It is estimated that there may be as many as a million or more HIV-infected Americans who do not know that they are infected. Many of them continue spreading HIV disease to others, unknowingly.
How many people are really infected in America today? A CDC report covering the results of anonymous (secret) testing of hospitalized patients across America during the period 1989-1991 was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, August 13, 1992. Surveys of 20 "sentinel hospitals" revealed an HIV infection rate of 4.7% among the patients admitted to sentinel hospitals. Amazingly, two-thirds of those who were found to be infected apparently did not know of their infectious status. Since sentinel hospital testing was all done anonymously, public health authorities had no way of notifying the thousands of infected patients who had been identified that they carried a deadly, communicable disease. (5)
Sentinel hospital studies have been carried out on low-risk children in high-risk areas of our nation. Of course, all testing continues to be done anonymously; without identifying those who are infected, there is no way to stop this epidemic. Sentinel hospital testing has revealed that HIV disease is already beginning to spread into the youth of America. Testing results of low-risk children in high-risk areas revealed that 1.4% of 15-to-16 year-old teenagers were already infected; testing at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York City, and at the University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, revealed that 6-8% of low-risk children were infected.
(6) The most recently released CDC study on the incidence of HIV disease in America was presented at the Second National Conference on Human Retroviruses and Related Infections, held January 29-February 2, 1995, in Washington, D.C. Testing patients coming into the emergency room at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital in New York City revealed that of those who denied knowledge of HIV infection, 5.4% were infected. Furthermore, 14% of infected males listed intimate relations with prostitutes as the most likely source of their infections. Amazingly, in America today, with a sexually transmitted epidemic moving rapidly into our black & Hispanic populations, infected prostitutes are still being allowed to ply their trade in cities across America, spreading their deadly infection to unsuspecting customers. (7)
The time has come for concerned Americans to organize across our land, demanding that state and national legislators require mandatory reportability of HIV seropositivity, mandatory premarital and prenatal testing, and taking infected prostitutes off our streets. We must begin to address the HIV epidemic as a "medical catastrophe" rather than a "civil rights issue".
We have already delayed far too long. Only an aroused, concerned, and moral people can survive in the age of AIDS. What sacrifices are you personally willing to make in this battle for a sane approach to the epidemic? What is your responsibility to your fellow Americans as this epidemic sweeps into our black and Hispanic neighborhoods? What part would God have you play?
The Bible records a story that applies to every one of us today. Each of us does bear a measure of responsibility for the fate of our neighbors, be they homosexuals, IVDs, blacks, Hispanics or somebody else's children. Luke 10:25 records:
"And behold a certain lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?' And He said to him, 'What is written in the Law?' How does it read to you? And he answered and said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF'.
"And He said to him, 'You have answered correctly; do this and you will live'.
"But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'
"Jesus replied and said, 'A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went off leaving him half dead. And by chance a certain priest was going down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
"But a certain Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the next day he took two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return, I will repay you.' Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands? And he replied, 'The one who showed mercy on him.'
"And Jesus said to him, "'Go and do the same'".
Indeed, Christians in America should do the same. Now is the time for those who love God to commit their efforts, their time, their money, and, if necessary, their very lives to stopping this dreadful plague, while there is still time.
(1) MMWR, February 3, 1995, Volume 44/No. 4: pp. 64-67
(2) Toward a Comprehensive HIV-Prevention Program For The CDC And The Nation: Don Francis MD: Journal of the American Medical Association, Sept. 16, 1992: Volume 268, No. 11: p. 1444
(3) A Nation Deceived and Betrayed. A 67-page paper available from HIV-Watch, P.O. Box 1835, Soquel, CA 95073. Documents the new epidemics and drug-resistant bacteria developing across our nation and the world.
(4) Speech by Professor William Haseltine Ph.D., given to the French Academy of Sciences, November 1992. Copies available from HIV-Watch, P.O. Box 1835, Soquel, CA 95073.
(5) HIV Infection Among Patients In U.S. Acute Care Hospitals: Robert S. Jannsen M.D. et al: New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 327: No 7 Aug 13, 1992: pp. 445-451.
(6) AIDS Weekly: July 4, 1994: page 19)
(7) Noemi Olivo et al, presented at the Second National Conference on Human Retroviruses and Related Infections, Washington D.C., Jan 29-Feb. 2, 1995. See also, AIDS Weekly, February 29, 1995, page 9.