If you’re anything like us, you’ve seen the red ribbons every 1st of December, for quite awhile. World AIDS Day. You’ve heard the statistics, seen the commercials urging support for AIDS orphans in Africa. Maybe you’ve even donated to one of those organizations, or traveled to volunteer with AIDS patients. Or, maybe the AIDS crisis is something you’re just learning about for the first time.
Wherever you’re at, World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to take a moment and reflect. To reflect on those you know who’ve been affected by HIV/AIDS. To reflect on the many more – 33.4 million more– whom you don’t know, having to face the reality of living with HIV/AIDS, every single day. Taking a moment, or even a few minutes to stop and let the reality of the AIDS crisis hit you can be terrifying.
Terrifying because, it is quite simply the single largest killer that our modern world has ever known. How do we grieve for 33.4 million people? For that matter, how do we grieve for one? If we’re not careful – the numbers can easily overwhelm and paralyze us. However…
What if our grief became our action?
The one thing that we all have in common is the opportunity to take a step further in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
- A step towards understanding the complexity of fighting HIV/AIDS, both locally and abroad.
- A step towards learning the story of someone living with HIV/AIDS.
- A step towards using your voice to educate your children, parents, siblings, spouses, friends, co-workers, faith communities, and beyond.
- A step towards using your resources of time, talents, and finances to support the work of those around the world involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
And so, we invite the global community of One Day’s Wages to take a step further.
Please keep reading for a history of World AIDS Day, along with tangible ways of acting to fight against HIV/AIDS.
The World Health Organization first established World Aids Day in 1988 and since then, it has been recognized every day on December 1st. World Aids Day was created to “provide[s] governments, national AIDS programs, faith organizations, community organizations, and individuals with an opportunity to raise awareness and focus attention on the global AIDS epidemic”. In 1996, an organization called Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) was formed to continue to promote awareness of HIV/AIDS and World Aids Day. A World AIDS Campaign was created to educate and raise funds, and became an independent organization in 2004. To this day, World Aids Day remains true to its purpose and is meant to raise awareness and support, educate, and confront preconceived notions about HIV/AIDS.
This year’s World AIDS Day theme is: 'Universal Access and Human Rights'. This year the focus will be to establish universal access to HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention and care. Increasing access to treatment has already seen a significant rise over the past few years which has caused the number of AIDS related deaths to decrease, but millions are still left untreated.
Take a moment to reflect on these staggering statistics on HIV/AIDS from the UNAIDS 2009 report:
- It is estimated that over 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV (20% higher than in 2000).
- In 2008, an estimated 2.7 million new HIV infections occurred.
- Of the 2.7 million new infections in 2008, 430,000 of them were children under age 15. A total of about 2 .1 million children are infected today.
- Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for the largest portion of HIV/AIDS infections, including 71% of new infections during 2008.
- Infection rates continue to increase especially in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Millennium Development Goals
In 2000, 189 world leaders met for the Millennium Summit at the United Nations Headquarters. At this meeting, the Millennium Development Goals were established in order to address the issues of peace and security, poverty, the environment and human rights. One of the 8 goals established focuses on the HIV/AIDS crisis. The goal aims to “Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS” (UN). The goal also states that it wishes to have achieved universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS by 2010. Unfortunately, many countries are struggling to achieve universal access to treatment, and the number of affected individuals has yet to decrease. Recently more focus has been placed on HIV/AIDS prevention and education. In many countries, less than 40% of men and 36% of women aged 15-24 understand how HIV is transmitted and how to prevent infection (United Nations 2008). Funding for anti-HIV/AIDS programs is definitely on the rise, but not nearly to the extent that is necessary to successfully combat this disease.
To follow the progress of the Millennium Development Goals, visit: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals. One Day’s Wages is proud to work in alignment with the vision and mission of the MDG’s in the fight to end extreme global poverty.
You CAN Make A Difference!
LEARN – try starting here to learn about the HIV/AIDS epidemic both locally and around the world: http://avert.org/aids-hiv-epidemic.htm
MEDIA – Download posters or fact sheets and place them around your community. Find resources here:
GATHER – Attend a 2009 World AIDS Day Event. Check here for your local gatherings:
SHARE – Don’t forget to share what you’ve learned with your friends, family and coworkers. Try wearing a red ribbon which symbolizes AIDS awareness and is worn particularly around World AIDS Day to demonstrate care and concern about HIV and AIDS, and to remind others of the need for their support and commitment.
RAISE – Organize an event (garage sale, sports tournament, bake sale, dinner party, etc.) with your friends and family to support one of the many great organizations that have been working to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS around the world.
While none of our current partnerships at ODW are solely focused on the issue of HIV/AIDS, each of their work impacts the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS, or those at high risk of contracting it.