On World AIDS Day, which is observed Dec.1 of each year, it is common to hold memorials to honor people who have died from HIV/AIDS.
Informative and educational events are being held on every continent. The theme for 2010 is Lights for Rights, a campaign that focuses on human rights and HIV by encouraging people around the world to dim their lights in remembrance of the devastating effects AIDS has on the world.
Turning the lights back on expresses the will to help keep the spotlight on human rights and HIV.
The statistics are staggering. It is estimated 33 million people worldwide live with HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, 2 million people died from AIDS in 2008, including about 270,000 children.
An important reminder that the fight against HIV is far from over is that every nine-and-a-half minute another person in the United States becomes infected with HIV. African Americans are 12 percent of the U.S. population but make up nearly half of both new HIV infections and people living with HIV. The rate of new HIV infections for Black men is 6 times that of white men; for Black women, it is 15 times that of white women.
There is a majority of people who are HIV positive but do not know they are. Most often people learn of their status well into their disease process. Early intervention can help preserve health. For many HIV isn’t real in the absence of public faces, names and stories of those living with HIV.
Putting a face to the disease can help people recognize that it’s their brother, father, mother, and loved ones who have now become today’s reality of AIDS. Then, there are persons who are at risk for HIV and don’t even know it, such as Men that have sex with Men (MSM), who also may have wives and girlfriends.
Even MSM who think they are in monogamous relationships in which both partners are presumed negative become infected because of ignorance about their own true HIV status and unfounded trust of their partners.
One of the most recognized international health days, World AIDS Day began in1987. Since 1995, the President of the United States has made an official proclamation on World AIDS Day. Governments of other nations have followed suit and issued similar announcements.