LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Together, we can end things like HIV and tuberculosis for women
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The article "Honoring Ball State women accomplishments" is an inspiring and fitting dedication to look back at the impact women have had on the University.
There's so many strong examples of women in Ball's history – both the state university and the family – but I think my favorite are Bertha Crosley Ball and Sarah Rogers Ball. They were both champions of public health and community service in the turn of the 20th century. Both were critical in the founding of the local Visiting Nurses Association, with Bertha serving on the board of directors, as vice president and even as president over the course of decades in the early third of the 1900s. The women and the organization were critical in the development of the Delaware County Tuberculosis Association, which won awards for percentage of student participants in the mid-1920s.
In this month, I think it is also important to look at the picture we are painting for women today. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), women make up the slim majority of HIV infections worldwide at 51 percent, but that number changes dramatically around the globe. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, women made up nearly 60 percent of infections. Also according to WHO, nearly half a million women died from tuberculosis in 2017 alone. Approximately 111,000 of these deaths were among women with HIV. Tuberculosis is the leading infectious killer in the world, despite being preventable and entirely curable.
We, in America, don't have to worry about HIV and TB in our daily lives. If, for some reason, we are exposed, we can get tested immediately and take preventative medications. If we don't catch it in time to prevent it, we can receive treatment at any hospital. Curing TB and getting a prescription to keep our HIV viral counts so low that it's almost a nonissue. Other countries don't have that luxury.
Things like The Global Fund make it possible for these people to get help. The Global Fund has saved 27 million lives since it was founded in 2002, and it's up for a refill this year. Countries all around the world will donate to end HIV, TB and malaria. President Trump's proposed budget calls for $1.1 billion in FY2020, but we can do better. Congress needs to allocate $1.56 billion in order to show America's leadership on this issue. Our senators Todd Young and Mike Braun need to take a lead and show appropriators that this is not something to vacillate on; these diseases are leading killers on the planet and they don't have to be.
Together, we can take a page from Bertha and Sarah Ball's book, end things like HIV and tuberculosis for women, and not only make these diseases history, but also make it about herstory as well.
Indiana General Assembly, Legislative Services Agency
University Innovation Fellow