The epidemic is something that should be on our minds, not only because of the department of theatre and dance’s ongoing production of “Rent” and the upcoming free AIDS testing on campus, but also because World AIDS Day coming up on Dec. 1.
The 2011 theme is “Leading with science, uniting for action.”
According to the event website, World AIDS Day “is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.”
Also according to the website, it is estimated that 34 million people were living around the world with AIDS at the close of 2010 and that more than 25 million people worldwide died from the virus between 1981 and 2007, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Even though we have made significant scientific advances in the treatment of HIV and there are now laws to protect those living with the disease, misconceptions about the disease and those infected with it prevail.
A significant number of people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV as well.
There are currently more than one million people living with AIDS in the U.S. One in five of those one million infected with the retrovirus is unaware of the infection. Equally shocking is that every nine and a half minutes, someone in the U.S. is infected with AIDS.
World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public that the disease has not gone away. There is still a very real need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve HIV education.
A lot of the students here do not remember when the AIDS epidemic was in its media heyday, and so the disease is not as much of a concern for them. But AIDS is still a problem.
There is plenty you can do on Dec. 1 to support World AIDS, from educating yourself and others to making sure you are not an AIDS risk to you partner.
Get tested. The pinprick hurts less than a lifetime with HIV. And now, you don’t even need to get poked–they can test you with a swab.