World AIDS Day 2013
Lynnsey @ Kids Matter
“I'm a real person, and I'm angry. I'm trying to use this celebrity thing to get people some help. AIDS, poverty, racism - I want to be one of the hands that helps stop all that. I'll put it on my shoulders. I'll charge it to my account.” Jamie Foxx
His name was Ben. I see his smile every time I look at the person I love. I see the pain he caused and the people he left behind. Ben had buried his truth so deep that his only option became to leave his family. Years later, Elizabeth, his daughter, would meet him for the first time, and as they cried in each other’s arms, saying nothing, it became painfully clear that this tearful reunion would be short-lived. You see, Ben was dying of AIDS. And as his daughter watched him become an 80 pound shell of the man he used to be, she vowed to be his voice and to educate those around her about this horrible disease.
It is this passion that embodies the idea of World Aids Day. Originally conceived in 1988, it is a day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic worldwide. Today, more than 35 million people are living with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). It is an epidemic that, since 1981, has claimed the lives of more than 25 million people and has become one of the world’s most serious health and development challenges Three decades ago, it was seen as a disease exclusive to a specific community, however, we know now that though people may discriminate, AIDS does not. It affects both men and women of every race and does not care if you are gay or straight or young or old. Some of the scarier statistics show that 95% of new infections (half under the age of 25) occur in individuals that reside in low- and middle- income countries particularly in sub-Saharan Africa where access to prevention education, care, and treatment is scarce. Many who are infected with AIDS are unaware of their infection which can lead to unknowingly passing the virus to another person.
Many will ask, “What can I do to make a difference on World AIDS Day?” The answer is simple. AIDS is a preventable disease. Just making the personal commitment to yourself to never have unprotected sexual intercourse can save your life and the lives of others. If you wish to take it a step further, contact your local AIDS organization. Non-profit organizations are always looking for volunteers who are willing to participate in community outreach and other programs that help educate our communities about the prevention, care, and treatment of AIDS. If nothing else, start a dialogue with a coworker or change your profile picture to a red ribbon. Get the word out. Together, we can not only honor the millions like Ben who have succumbed to this disease, but also ensure that future generations have a brighter and healthier story to tell.
2. Global Health Policy