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Ebola a Walk In the Park Beside AIDS

Worried about Ebola? Well, you should be, for several reasons. But if you want to talk about a real mass killer, HIV/AIDS ought to be on your mind.

That’s old news, right? We have better drugs to fight HIV/AIDS and better ways of preventing it, right?

Indeed we do. They’re helping. But mortality statistics I perused in doing some research on Ebola shocked the dickens out of me. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised, too.

Detailed numbers on various causes of death are compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recent report is for 2012.

That year, 7,683 Americans died of HIV/AIDS, according to the CDC. The death toll for that and the previous nine years totaled 112,513.

HIV/AIDS is still a major killer, in other words.

But we Americans are lucky. We have access to those wonderful anti-AIDS drugs and all those effective methods of preventing infection in the first place. Most people don’t.

Sit down for this:?In 2012, the number of AIDS-related deaths globally was 1.6 million, the World Health Organization says.

Ebola, in contrast, had killed fewer than 2,000 people during the past 40 years, until this year’s outbreak. At last count, the death toll from the current epidemic was about 5,000.

Now, there is good news about HIV/AIDS. It was much, much worse just a few years ago. According to the WHO, the peak year for AIDS-related deaths was 2005, with 2.3 million of them.

In the United States, the past decade has seen a steady decrease, year by year, in HIV deaths. They are only about half what they were 10 years ago.

As far as the risk level here goes, compare the 7,683 HIV deaths in 2012 to those caused by heart disease (596,5677) and cancer (576,691). Even diabetes (69,071) is a much bigger threat for the overwhelming majority of Americans.

But HIV/AIDS is still a big problem. Again according to the WHO, 35.3 million people worldwide are living with HIV infections.

American aid is one reason many of them are still alive. Former President George W. Bush poured billions of U.S. dollars into helping fight AIDS in Africa. Millions of lives were saved as a result.

Clearly, there’s more to do. Ebola is a menacing threat. AIDS is a mass killer.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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