Miami Living Magazine

Alicia Silverstone

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Page 96 of 147

MIAMI LIVING 95 HEALTH There is no doubt that the global AIDS crisis is one of the greatest humanitarian challenges of our time. It's been decades since the world first learned of the existence of AIDS, a virus that has affected the lives of over twenty-five million Americans alone. Those suffering from the disease were highly stigmatized at first and although the situation has improved, what will happen when the economic pressure of climate change is thrown into the mix? Climate change will divert resources away from public health needs. Daniel Tarantola, Professor of Public Health at the University of New South Wales believes the escalation of global warming is a dangerous situation for the HIV/AIDS community. "Climate change will trigger a chain of events, which is likely to increase the stress on society and result in higher vulnerability to diseases including HIV," Tarantola said. It turns out that HIV/AIDS and climate change are two of the most important long-term global issues of the recent past, present and future. Yet, links between the two have received little analysis. "Many clinical studies have reported that HIV positive people are more vulnerable than the general population to malignancies, in spite of a good virological, immune and clinical response. By consequence, if our governments do not urgently take the appropriate, difficult actions to stop the world's self-destruction, the community will be more challenged by the degeneration of our environment," ML MAG HIV/AIDS expert Filippo von Schloesser corroborated. "Particularly those populations in poor settings who have limited access to treatment and are more exposed to food and water contamination. In the long run, should these actions not been taken, those who win the battle are bacteria, viruses and malignancies." The current decline in global food security, partly attributable to climate change, is already causing disproportionate nutritional harm to already impoverished populations, many of whom already experience HIV/AIDS. Any substantial decline in the availability and intake of calories or micronutrients brought about by climate change is likely to increase such poverty. Therefore, recognizing the association between HIV/AIDS and the natural environment can contribute to the well being of both human populations and local environments. Populations currently exhibiting high rates of HIV are the most vulnerable to a worsening or prolongation of the epidemic due to climate change. This places the people of Sub-Saharan Africa at the greatest risk; outside of African populations people living in northeast India and New Guinea will also be impacted. Another research gap is the effect of climate change on human behavior, including behavior related directly to HIV risk. HIV has already killed tens of millions of people worldwide, and the advent of climate change will substantially increase this statistic. Those concerned in reducing the impact of global warming can apply many lessons learned by the HIV community; including the need to challenge conventions, assist the poorest and most marginalized; and to widen the climate change movement's potential engagement with entrepreneurs, philanthropists and prominent personalities: all instrumental tools in the growth of support for those with HIV. ML HIV Report with Filippo von Schloesser Can global warming affect the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus? Words by Marla E. Schwartz "Climate change will trigger a chain of events, which is likely to increase the stress on society and result in higher vulnerability to diseases including HIV," Tarantola said.

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