Okay, let's look at the figures.
UNAIDS estimates that as of December 2001, there were an estimated 35+ million people living with HIV/AIDS (34.7 million adults and 1.4 million children under 15) in the world.
In the United States: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people living with HIV.
Suppose that we take an even lower number as being true;
so 30 million HIV patients in the world and 750,000 in the States. You could by any standards refer to this as an epidemic. It's been higher and lower according to the statistics you read and in which year they came out but it's still a vast number of human beings...agreed?
Okay, according to other statistics, between 30% and 40% of those HIV carriers have developed peripheral neuropathy, with all it's variations and possibilities.
Now let's talk numbers again.
If only 30% of HIV patients in the world have neuropathy, that works out as: 9,000,000 (nine million) plus neuropathy sufferers. If you apply that to the United States alone, with proportionately less HIV sufferers than say, South Africa, it's still 225,000 (two hundred and twenty five thousand) plus HIV patients with neuropathy. Personally, I have to apply it to the Netherlands where I live, with roughly 16,000 HIV patients...5,000 plus HIV/neuropathy sufferers here then. You can work it out for your own country. All these figures are on the conservative side - the lowest parameter in the stats.
My point is: when does a disease become an epidemic?
Look at the attention given to the 400,000 people in the US with Multiple Sclerosis; or the 5,000,000 Americans with Alzheimers; or the 2,000,000 patients with non-melanoma skin cancer, or the many other forms of cancer, lung, colon and liver disease, obesity, and other diseases. You get the point - these are all called 'epidemics'.
Have you heard anyone calling the rise of neuropathy an epidemic?
Why not I wonder?
Never underestimate the power of words like 'epidemic'. It can make millions of dollars/pounds/yen/roubles difference to the amount of research actually done to eradicate a disease. We live in an advertising world, like it or not and the truth is that peripheral neuropathy is just not hip! And peripheral neuropathy as a byproduct of HIV...forget it!
It seems simple to me, the disease needs Saatchi and Saatchi!