Today is World Aids Day — it is fascinating to see how our country and the world’s relationship with HIV and AIDS have evolved over the past thirty years. HIV is thought to have entered the United States around 1970. By 1983, 3,000 AIDS cases had been reported in the USA, and 1,000 people had died as a result of AIDS. In 1988, World AIDS Day was established in remembrance of those who have passed and as a call to action. Fast forward to 2011: AIDS is now reported to have killed 30 million people around the world, and 34 million are living with HIV today. In Sub-Saharan Africa—where 60 percent of the people with HIV are women and girls—it has left a generation of children to grow up without mothers and fathers or teachers. Moreover, in 2011 people living with HIV are still subject to restrictions on their travel and/or stay in 47 countries, territories and areas.
The theme for World AIDS Day 2011 is ‘Getting to Zero’. After 30 years of the global fight against HIV/AIDS, the global community has committed to focusing on achieving 3 targets:
- Zero new HIV infections
- Zero discrimination
- Zero AIDS-related deaths
AIDS is no longer a hush, hush issue- it is a cause for which politicians like Hillary Clinton, celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres (recently named AIDS Global Envoy), and musicians like U2 rally in support. Today, President Obama will speak at an event hosted by the ONE Campaign and (RED), joining former President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, Bono and Alicia Keys, and others who have been so critical in the worldwide fight against AIDS. Check out his speech.
World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for all of us – individuals and communities- to take on the challenge of getting to zero. As we go about our busy lives, here are some things you can do:
- Pause for a moment of silence today
- Wear a Red Ribbon
- Learn more about Universal Access and the countless other AIDS Prevention Initiatives