By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Metro residents are having to defend the time and money used to raise awareness about AIDS.
A report from the weekend showed there's a growing number of people who feel the global AIDS crisis is "overblown" and no longer a big deal. Those attending a service in northwest Oklahoma City strongly disagree.
One by one, victims of AIDS were remembered at the Mayflower Congregational Church.
"This is World AIDS Day. We have all come together to remember those we've lost," Jeff Robbins with the American Red Cross said.
The crowd wasted no time at firing back at recently published reports suggesting too much time and money is being spent on a disease that killed over 2 million last year alone.
"I'm not saying it's more important than any other disease but we can't ignore it," Robbins said.
Kai Dameron lost her grandfather to AIDS more than 20 years ago.
"I test young people, and they are positive. This is very real," Dameron said.
"There are a lot of people still struggling and still living with this," Doug Carlton said.
Carlton has been living with HIV for 15 years now and he's furious.
"I saw those articles, articles like this impact us," Carlton said.
A researcher by the name of Roger England recently wrote in a British medical journal: "The global HIV industry is too big and out of control. We've created a monster with too many interests and reputations at state."
England goes on to say the energy spent on AIDS should be directed to other diseases around the world and he's not alone. One researcher, Jeffrey Shiffman from Syracuse University, has said:"AIDS is a terrible humanitarian tragedy, but it's just one of many tragedies."
While more and more researchers are getting on board this train of thought, locals are singing a different tune.
"It's great here in America we can express our own opinions, and that's what this is, an opinion," Carlton said.
President Bush has made treating AIDS in Africa a centerpiece of his foreign policy. Monday he said he's met a goal of treating 2 million people in Africa by the end of 2008.