The 19th International AIDS conference ended Friday in Washington, D.C., with some hopeful signs. Scientists unveiled a road map to a possible cure based on findings advanced by researchers, including some at UNC Chapel Hill. New research also shows that early treatment of HIV patients with antiretroviral drugs sharply reduces the chances they will transmit the virus that causes AIDS.
But that good news was mitigated by this: Treating the disease remains daunting because many people dont get tested. In the U.S., about 20 percent of those with HIV dont even know they have it.
North Carolina is a good case in point. The state ranks ninth in the nation for the rate of HIV diagnoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Lisa Hazirjian, the Executive Director of the NC AIDS Action Network, says getting people to consider regular testing is the biggest obstacle.
One of the things thats most alarming is the frequency of late diagnosis of HIV in North Carolina, she said.
Thats a shame, because early diagnosis and treatment not only save the lives of people with the disease, they save the lives of people those infected are intimate with. The CDC says studies show that men and women with HIV reduced risk of transmitting the virus to their heterosexual partners by 96 percent when treated.
Whats as troubling is this: Most new HIV infections in the U.S. are among people under 30. Here in North Carolina, nearly half of all new HIV infections are in young people between the ages of 15 and 24. In this state about 35,000 people are living with HIV, including those who may be unaware of their status. In Mecklenburg County, there are almost 4,500 people living with HIV/AIDS. In the U.S., there are about 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS.
A cure might be in the offing, but diagnosis is the most effective treatment today. Get tested. It could be a life-saver.
A thank you to symphonys Martin
Jonathan Martin arrived in Charlotte in the spring of 2008, hungry to shake things up as the new executive director of the Charlotte Symphony. He had ideas for how to engage a larger audience and, most importantly, how to put the orchestra on sound financial footing. The symphony had been piling up debt for years and in the 1990s had almost gone out of business.
Months after Martins arrival, the economy cratered. An already-thorny job became nearly impossible.
Martin never blinked. Instead, he doubled his efforts. He hired a new conductor. He honestly articulated to his board, his players, his financial supporters and the community the depth of the symphonys financial problems and what had to happen to keep the music playing. He was unafraid to change how things had always been done on stage, jazzing things up to attract a bigger and younger audience.
His work paid off. Ticket sales rose, board giving shot up, expenses were reined in.
The symphony still has an extremely difficult financial road ahead of it. But without Martin, its likely it would have vanished altogether by now.
Folks around the country have noticed Martins talent. Hell step down in August to become the chief executive of the Dallas Symphony, one of the nations best.
With a budget four times the size of Charlottes and a $100 million endowment, Dallas is a plum assignment. Charlotte should congratulate Martin on this much-deserved move and thank him for his work here the past four years. He will be missed.