Monday ushered in the beginning of World AIDS Day, which promotes the awareness of AIDS, a disease which afflicts many people globally. According to the World AIDS Day Campaign website, worldaidscampaign.org, the mission of the organization is to bring together individuals and organizations to bring attention to the epidemic that is drastically impacting our world and society. Their theme this year, “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise,” rings true of their vocation to end the mass spreading of HIV/AIDS and to advocate the practice of safe sex. An elegant red ribbon stands as the symbol for AIDS awareness and is often worn to show solidarity for patients coping with the virus. Red ribbons hang everywhere from the White House to jacket lapels to skyscrapers in every size. According to nationsencyclopedia.com, the campaign began in 1988 at the World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention and has continued ever since.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a disease that is brought on by the HIVvirus. HIV progressively destroys the immune system and weakens the body by effectively destroying white blood cells that fight off infections in the body. HIV/AIDS is transmitted through a number of unsafe practices including unprotected sex and the sharing of infected hypodermic needles. Fohn.net states that the disease was first discovered by scientists in 1981 and was identified so by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to avert.org, AIDS has taken the lives of an estimated 1.8 million to 2.3 million people around the world in 2007, about a quarter of those lives were children. 33 million were expected to be living with the HIV/AIDS virus last year, including 2.7 newly affected people. Over half of the people affected with the virus reside in sub-Saharan Africa, according to avert.org. There is no cure for AIDS, and although there has been significant advances in medicine to research treatments, these remedies are very costly. What remains, from avert.org, as the best prevention method is education on safe sex practices and clean needle exchange programs for drug users to trade in used hypodermic needles for new ones.
Students can get involved in the World AIDS Day Program by signing up on their website, making pledges, campaigning on behalf of local organizations, spreading the word about HIV/AIDS to peers, and handing out pamphlets to others. According to their website, the goal of the campaign is to promote AIDS awareness among global organizations, but they stress that individuals and grassroots movements can make an impact as well. Younger people are especially encouraged to take part in the campaign since people under 25 years of age account for half of the new HIV infections each year, as stated by avert.org AIDS is a pandemic. All across the world people are standing up on this special day to promote the awareness of the infliction and remember those who have died from AIDS in the past. Together we can stand up and fight this epidemic through education and devotion. Stop AIDS. Keep the promise.