December 1, 2008
Back in 1988, the World Health Organization and U.N. General Assembly first declared December 1 "World AIDS Day." This year marks the 20th anniversary of the annual event dedicated to remembering those we've lost to the virus and to recommitting with vigor to the fight against AIDS.
In the past two decades, the virus has claimed the lives of 20 million people. The deaths of people with HIV/AIDS have grown to more than 2 million each year. It's only recently, thanks to the lifesaving antiretroviral drugs currently available to HIV-positive people, that the number of annual deaths caused by HIV has begun to decline.
More than 33 million people are living with HIV around the world. The number of new HIV infections continues to outnumber AIDS-related deaths, suggesting that the AIDS pandemic will rage on for generations to come.
The world is aware of the figures and is trying to respond. Our country alone has pledged a whopping $48 billion in foreign aid to fight AIDS through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. And yet, with all the money and all the efforts of AIDS services organizations, governments, health care workers, relief workers and the families and friends of people living with HIV, we can't seem to mitigate the circumstances or stop AIDS.
We believe that the HIV community (both those who carry HIV and those whose lives it directly affects) has a great opportunity to play a role in the battle against HIV. Whether that's by raising funds or awareness, volunteering at an AIDS-related event, writing to local or national politicians to demand more funding and equal rights for people living with HIV, paying homage to someone who lost his or her life to the disease, or simply being a good friend to someone fighting the virus, there is so much we all can do to support one another and stop people from becoming positive.
Tell us what you're planning to do this World AIDS Day.
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