The statistics are daunting: there are over thirty four million people living with HIV world wide, thirty million of which that live in developing countries, and over one thousand children are infected with HIV per day, with even more adult infections on the rise.
Today we commemorate World AIDS Day to raise HIV awareness and tackle the prejudice that it is associated with HIV/AIDS. This year’s theme of Universal Access and human rights ties into that of the Sixteen Days of Activism and the International Human Rights Day. Recognizing the human rights aspect is a fundamental part of the process of changing the perception of HIV/AIDS and increasing the accessibility of treatment for people that are infected. As Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon said in June, “Universal access means more than ensuring that those who need treatment or prevention services receive them. It implies an extra effort to reach those who are marginalized, criminalized, or disenfranchised.”
World AIDS Day is one of the most recognized international health days and remembers those that have passed from the disease, in addition to celebrating the tremendous strides that have been made in HIV/AIDS research.
The Zakim Bridge here in Boston will be one of several landmarks in the world that will be lit red this evening to recognize the global health community’s commitment to honor World AIDS Day. There are over fifteen community events this year in Boston which have been compiled by the AIDS Action Committee that range from health screenings to films.
There is also a rally being held at the Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand from 7-9 pm tonight, hosted by the Jubilee Project. The rally will include speeches, a concert, and a candlelight vigil to remember the lives lost to the AIDS epidemic.
For those of you not in Boston, you can find out an event near you at http://www.takeanumber.org.
If you are unable to attend any of the events, you can change your Facebook profile picture to the one provided on the AIDS Action Committee fan page at www.facebook.com/AIDSActionCommittee.
Do what you can today, and every day, to help achieve Millennium Development Goal #6’s aim to eradicate HIV/AIDs!