About World AIDS DayEach year, December 1 marks World AIDS Day, when activists around the world come together to raise awareness of the global HIV epidemic, to fight prejudice, and to improve HIV education and HIV prevention.
This year’s theme is “universal access and human rights” – an important reminder that much of the HIV positive population, including young people; GLBTQ people; those affected by poverty; and marginalized groups like sex workers and injecting drug users, still face unequal access to resources, services, and medication. And AIDS is the leading cause of death among women around the world. (from amplifyyourvoice.org)
The first time I met someone HIV-positive I was in Grad. School in London. The year was 1994. A colleague on my PhD program - a wonderful, kind, funny guy, had been diagnosed with HIV. During the year that I knew him he began to get sick and, about nine months later, confided that his doctors had told him he now had full-blown AIDS. He had to drop out of the program and focus on his health. He moved, and I lost touch. I'm not sure what happened next, and I'm deeply saddened that I didn't maintain the connection, but the prognosis back in '94 wasn't good.
There are few of us in North America who don't know someone - a friend, a relative, a friend-of-a-friend, who has been touched by AIDS. And AIDS continues to be an epidemic on the African continent. Here are some facts and figures from the UN:
The global AIDS epidemic
Since the beginning of the epidemic, almost 60 million people have been infected with HIV and 25 million people have died of HIV-related causes.
In 2008, some 33.4 million [31.1 million-35.8 million] people living with HIV, 2.7 million [2.4 million-3.0 million] new infections and 2 million [1.7 million-2.4 million] AIDS-related deaths.
In 2008, around 430 000 [240 000-610 000] children were born with HIV, bringing to 2.1 million [1.2 million-2.9 million] the total number of children under 15 living with HIV.
Young people account for around 40% of all new adult (15+) HIV infections worldwide.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the region most affected and is home to 67% of all people living with HIV worldwide and 91% of all new infections among children. In sub-Saharan Africa the epidemic has orphaned more than 14 million children.
As people of faith, we must open ourselves to bear witness to the pain and suffering of others, be moved to act compassionately and support, with our financial contributions, with our time, and with our words, national and international efforts to end this suffering and find a cure for AIDS. You can learn more, and find ways of helping at the World AIDS Day website.
Please check the Reform movement's Religious Action Center for a press release on December 1st regarding World AIDS Day. And, if you are thinking of someone today who has been impacted by AIDS, you are invited to share the name and story of the one you are remembering on the comments here.