Mark Esposito and a group of people who have disabilities are biking 4,000 miles across the country to raise awareness and money for people who have lost physical function by disease, accidents, or war. Esposito served in an Air Force special tactics squadron in Afghanistan. His Humvee hit a roadside bomb that threw him and the other soldiers out of the car. His legs were crushed below the knees and his back broken. It him a year in two military rehab centers to be able to walk again.
Esposito decided to ride across the country to show how much someone with a disability can do. Rory McCarthy, who is 56 years old and one of the few civilians on the trip, is taking the entire trip using just his arms on a hand cycle. The same kind of mental effort is required in recovery from such serious injuries. Esposito says: “The medical technology and physicians will take you so far . . . but you have to want to take the therapy, and you have to want to get better. . . . It’s that mind-set, that positive motivation that’s going to get you through.”
A few days before the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a study conducted throughout the state of Georgia shows that Georgians have little experience with people who have developmental disabilities, and do not know about the problems people with disabilities have.
The survey was done by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD). They found that only 33% of people in Georgia interact with people who have developmental disabilities on a daily basis, including the 44% of Georgians who have a family member with a developmental disability. The survey also found that people were not very aware of the problems people with disabilities often have in their daily life; issues such as accessibility, support for living independently, job opportunities, and finances.
Eric Jacobson, the executive director of GCDD said that people with developmental disabilities are still “invisible” in our society. The best way to correct this problem is to do more to integrate people with disabilities into schools, workplaces, and communities. People still underestimate how independent and successful people with developmental disabilities can be in school, work, and everyday life.
While there have not been any big breakthroughs in creating an AIDS vaccine, researchers are more optimistic than they have been for a long time. There have been a number of studies that look hopeful.
A study in Thailand found that a combination of two vaccines lowered the infection rate by a third in three years in a group of 16,000 volunteers. Another study found human antibodies that can protect against a number of AIDS viruses.
The AIDS virus has infected more than 33.4 million people. The disease has killed more than 25 million people. Since there so many ways AIDS is transmitted, there is not an easy way to protect against infection. A vaccine is the most promising way to fight the virus.
Recent studies helped scientists to how to know which potential directions to go with their research. One option is to modify an existing vaccine; like the one used in the study in Thailand. Another possibility is to combine more than one vaccine. A vaccine that can activate immune system proteins, called neutralizing antibodies, may be the best bet.
Unfortunately, a successful vaccine is probably years away. Drug companies often do not want to invest so much money with such uncertain results. Nonprofit organizations with tight budgets do most of the research.