Edited by Gerald Boerner
Today marks the day we remember the plight of those around the world who are suffering from the HIV/AIDS virus. The World Health Organization has been sponsoring this day since 1987. The President of the United States has issued an official proclamation on December 1st since 1995.
The theme this year is “Universal Access and Human Rights”. Significantly, this year for the first time the Pope has declared his support for the use of condoms to fight HIV/AIDS, especially among male prostitutes. Let’s hope that this might decrease the rate of infection in Africa and other third-world countries.
So let’s start our exploration of this importance of this day… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2010 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 1572 Words ]
“Never, never, never give up.”
— Winston Churchill
“It is never too late to give up our prejudices.”
— Henry David Thoreau
“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
— Author Unknown
“Prejudice is the child of ignorance.”
— William Hazlitt
“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”
— William James
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
— Dr. Seuss
“Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.”
— Norman B. Rice
“Every action in our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.”
— Edwin Hubbel Chapin
“AIDS obliges people to think of sex as having, possibly, the direst consequences: suicide. Or murder.”
— Susan Sontag
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.”
— Herman Melville
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
— Anne Frank
“It is bad enough that people are dying of AIDS, but no one should die of ignorance.”
— Elizabeth Taylor
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope… and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
— Robert F. Kennedy
“Ignorance and prejudice are fuelling the spread of a preventable disease. World AIDS Day, 1 December is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS….[I]t’s up to you, me and us to stop the spread of HIV and end prejudice.”
— worldaidsday.org, 2006
“Started in 1988, World AIDS Day is not just about raising money, but also about increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.”
— avert.org, 2006
World AIDS Day — “Universal Access and Human Rights”
World AIDS Day, observed December 1 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. It is common to hold memorials to honor persons who have died from HIV/AIDS on this day. Government and health officials also observe the event, often with speeches or forums on the AIDS topics. 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.
AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, and an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide live with HIV as of 2007, 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, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 2 million lives in 2007, of which about 270,000 were children.
World AIDS Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Bunn and Netter took their idea to Dr. Jonathan Mann, Director of the Global Programme on AIDS (now known as UNAIDS). Dr. Mann liked the concept, approved it, and agreed with the recommendation that the first observance of World AIDS Day should be 1 December, 1988.
Bunn suggested the date of December 1st to ensure coverage by western news media, something he believed was vital to the success of World AIDS Day. He felt that because 1988 was an election year in the U.S. media outlets would be weary of their post-election coverage and eager to find a fresh story to cover. Bunn and Netter felt that December 1 was long enough after the election and soon enough before the Christmas holidays that it was, in effect, a dead spot in the news calendar and thus perfect timing for World AIDS Day.
Bunn, originally a reporter covering the epidemic for KPIX-TV in San Francisco, along with producer Nancy Saslow, also conceived and initiated “AIDS Lifeline” – a public awareness and health education campaign that was syndicated to television stations in the U.S. “AIDS Lifeline” was honored with a Peabody Award, a local Emmy, and the first National Emmy ever awarded to a local station in the U.S.
On 18 June, 1986 the “AIDS Lifeline” project was honored with a Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives, presented by President Ronald Reagan. Bunn was then asked by Dr. Mann, on behalf of the U.S. government, to take a two-year leave-of-absence from his reporting duties to join Dr. Mann (an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control) and assist in the creation of the Global Programme on AIDS. Mr. Bunn accepted and was named the first Public Information Officer for the Global Programme on AIDS. Along with Mr. Netter he created, designed, and implemented the inaugural World AIDS Day observance – now the longest-running disease awareness and prevention initiative of its kind in the history of public health.
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) became operational in 1996, and it took over the planning and promotion of World AIDS Day. Rather than focus on a single day, UNAIDS created the World AIDS Campaign in 1997 to focus on year-round communications, prevention and education.
In its first two years, the theme of World AIDS Day focused on children and young people. These themes were strongly criticized at the time for ignoring the fact that people of all ages may become infected with HIV and suffer from AIDS. But the themes drew attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, helped alleviate some of the stigma surrounding the disease, and helped boost recognition of the problem as a family disease.
In 2004, the World AIDS Campaign became an independent organization.
Each year, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have released a greeting message for patients and doctors on World AIDS Day.
Choosing the Theme
From its inception until 2004, UNAIDS spearheaded the World AIDS Day campaign, choosing annual themes in consultation with other global health organizations.
As of 2008, each year’s World AIDS Day theme is chosen by the World AIDS Campaign’s Global Steering Committee after extensive consultation with people, organizations and government agencies involved in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. For each World AIDS Day from 2005 through 2010, the theme will be “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise”, with a yearly sub-theme. This overarching theme is designed to encourage political leaders to keep their commitment to achieve universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care, and support by the year 2010.
This theme is not specific to World AIDS Day, but is used year-round in WAC’s efforts to highlight HIV/AIDS awareness within the context of other major global events including the G8 Summit. World AIDS Campaign also conducts “in-country” campaigns throughout the world, like the Student Stop AIDS Campaign, an infection-awareness campaign targeting young people throughout the UK.
Pope Allows for Condom Use to Fight AIDS
( Excerpted from: New York Times Article, see references below for link. )
ROME — Pope Benedict XVI has said that condom use can be justified in some cases to help stop the spread of AIDS, the Vatican’s first exception to a long-held policy banning contraceptives. The pope made the statement in interviews on a host of contentious issues with a German journalist, part of an unusual effort to address some of the harshest criticisms of his turbulent papacy.
The pope’s statement on condoms was extremely limited: he did not approve their use or suggest that the Roman Catholic Church was beginning to back away from its prohibition of birth control. In fact, the one example he cited as a possibly appropriate use was by male prostitutes.
Still, the statement was something of a milestone for the church and a significant change for Benedict, who faced intense criticism last year when, en route to AIDS-plagued Africa, he said condom use did not help prevent the spread of AIDS, only abstinence and fidelity did.
Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:
Wikipedia: World AIDS Day…
New York Times: In Rare Cases, Pope Justifies Use of Condoms…