Progress for Some, Hopelessness for Many

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Initially, AIDS was considered a disease for those with questionable lifestyles -- homosexual men and intravenous drug users. But when the disease contaminated the nation's blood supply and subsequently infected people like 13-year-old hemophilic Ryan White and the wife of actor Paul Glaser, Elizabeth Glaser, the face of the disease began to change.

In 1992, Elizabeth Glaser, the founder of the Pediatric AIDS Foundation, spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

"We are just real people wanting a more hopeful life," she said.

In 1991, basketball star Magic Johnson contracted the disease through unprotected sex.

"Because of my HIV virus I have attained, I will have to announce my retirement from the Lakers today," he said then, although he did return to play professional basketball once more.

Two years later, a prominent athlete was struck down with the disease. Tennis great Arthur Ashe announced that he had AIDS in 1992 and died the next year.

Johnson later appeared on a TV talk show for kids about AIDS. It featured a breakthrough moment when Broadbent, just seven at the time, made a desperate plea for acceptance.

"I want people to know we're just normal people," said Broadbent, who contracted the disease when she was four.

Today, much of the fear surrounding AIDS and HIV has dissipated in the United States due to the miracle drugs that allow patients to live relatively normal lives.

"I plan on finishing school, getting married, having kids and living my life," Broadbent said. "The same dreams as everyone else. And I just want to have the same opportunities as everyone else and not let AIDS get in the way."

Huge Disparities

But opportunities for normalcy are few and far between for people in Africa and Asia.

"When you think that there are 4 to 5 million infections a year and 3 million people dying, and the southern part of Africa still an apocalypse, and the virus moving around the world inexorably, it's just awful," said Stephen Lewis, the U.N. envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. "In the context of 25 years, I don't think there's been a historical precedent for working on a communicable disease for 25 years and making so little progress."

AIDS is the fourth-leading cause of death in the world, and there are countries in Africa where one third of the adults are HIV positive. Furthermore, those who do not have access to antiviral drugs usually survive less than 10 months after the HIV virus becomes AIDS.

President Bush has committed an unprecedented amount of money to fighting AIDS in the third world.

"I ask the Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years," he said at the 2003 State of the Union.

Activists like U2 singer Bono -- who even convinced staunchly conservative former Sen. Jesse Helms to support AIDS funding -- are still pushing for more funding and more help to get drugs to the poorest and most vulnerable. More stars are picking up the mantle.

"It's not a cause, and to me it long ago surpassed being just a pandemic," said actress Ashley Judd. "All of this is preventable. Every single bit of it is preventable."

To learn more about the AIDS virus and what you can do to help fight it, visit these sites: aidsaction.org, aidsquilt.org, pedaids.org, aidsfund.org, the Office of AIDS Research at the National Institutes of Health and redribboncoalition.org

External links are provided for reference purposes. ABC News is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites.

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