Monday, December 1, 2008

Today is World AIDS Day

Okay, I'm way behind on my posting (and my attempt at "thankful" posts was just shameful, but such is life), but I wanted to not let this day pass by without some acknowledgement.

December 1 is World AIDS Day.
The World Heath Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988, making this the 10th anniversary of World AIDS Day.

In 2007 . . .Globally, there were an estimated 33 million people living with HIV. Overall, 2.0 million people died due to AIDS, compared with an estimated 1.7 million in 2001.

33 Million - that's a lot of people. Here in the U.S., most of us are very fortunate. Most of us haven't had to deal with the disease head-on. Most of us can pretend that it doesn't really exist, except in remote corners of the world that no one cares much about. But you know what? That attitude doesn't cut it. Because as much as HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic, it is also here, in the U.S. too. 1.1 million. 21% of which don't even know their infected. Many are afraid to find out - not because it is a death sentence (it isn't when the right medication is readily available) , but because of the stigma still attached to the disease.

The truth is, if everyone opened their eyes and their hearts, and were willing to accept basic education about HIV/AIDS, we could make great strides against this disease. I shared
this post written by Erin several months ago, which lays out very basic facts about how HIV can and can't be transmitted. Here are the basics:

- HIV can NOT be spread through causal/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other causal way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles).

- HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives.

- People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do.

33 million people. That is impossible to fathom. That is a problem so big, how could anyone solve it? By coming together. Everyone stops closing their eyes. And everyone takes just one step, one little step. Whether it is by education (yourself, others), awareness, or just basic compassion - we can all make a difference. That's what today is about.

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
Helen Keller

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