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33 million people live with HIV/AIDS worldwide – 2.1 million die each year and 2.7 million more are infected.

What will you do this World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day began on December 1, 1988 and has since been recognized around the world each year. It has become a key opportunity to increase awareness, fight against prejudice, commemorate the lives lost to the disease, and celebrate the victories in increased access to services and treatment.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is ‘Universal Access and Human Rights,’ which offers the opportunity to recognize that despite the strides, the most marginalized and vulnerable populations still do not have access to the care and services they need – that access is their human right. The review of the Millennium Development Goals this past September reminded us of the goal to achieve universal access and World AIDS Day is another moment to remind policymakers, parents, teachers, and friends alike that we have lots to do to achieve universal access and protect human rights.


Do something this World AIDS Day. Whether you have a lot or a little time, we have just the way for you to get involved:

I care about the issue but don’t think I have time to plan an event.

I can whip up something quick, send me a free kit!

Bring it on! I’ll organize a film screening for World AIDS Day, send me a free kit!

I care about the issue but don’t think I have time to plan an event.

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Article by Candace Y. A. Montague, The Examiner

OBAMA! FENTY! CAN’T YOU SEE? FUND THE FIGHT! STOP HIV!” — They were young, loud, bodacious, and angry. A collective body of AIDS activists in conjunction with DC Fight Back, Act Up Philadelphia, The Campaign to End AIDS, Health GAP and a plethora of other non-profit organizations electrified the streets of downtown DC on Tuesday. The DC Fights Back rally and protest was held between two main statues of power in DC, the White House and the John Wilson Building (city hall). On lookers were stunned to see more than 150 protesters, advocates, and activists holding up traffic while making their message known.

WHAT DO WE WANT? HOUSING! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!!” — The message was more than just a plea for housing. It was a wakeup call for President Obama to keep his campaign promise of providing funding for HIV patients and to Mayor Fenty to fix a “broken system”.

It began as a mock funeral to symbolize the funerals of the 5,500 people who will die from AIDS in a day.

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Article written by Darryl Fears, Washington Post

A coalition of groups led by D.C. activists staged a sit-in inside the John A. Wilson Building and a mock funeral procession outside the White House on World AIDS Day to call attention to the suffering of those afflicted with the disease.

Two representatives of the AIDS awareness group D.C. Fights Back were arrested Tuesday for squatting in front of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s “bullpen” office, where his staff meets, and refusing a police order to move from the doorway.

Larry Bryant, co-chairman of the group, and member Matthew Kavanagh vowed not to move until they could meet with the mayor to discuss their demand that he pare down a three-year waiting list for housing for people with HIV/AIDS.

Bryant, who is HIV-positive, and Kavanagh were part of a procession of about 200 people and five symbolic coffins that were carried from the White House to Freedom Plaza across from the Wilson Building.

There, speakers said Fenty (D) has failed to answer the “wake-up call” from an epidemiology report that said 15,000 adults in the District are HIV-positive, and that the city’s HIV prevalence rate is 3 percent, the highest in the nation, according to the city Department of Health.

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We often forget that HIV/AIDS is not just a growing epidemic on other parts of the globe, but it is also an ever growing crisis that has also been plaguing America since the 1980s.  In 2006 the HIV virus was estimated by the Center for Disease Control to have infected 1.1 million people in the United States with the number of infections growing at a rate of 56,000 more Americans a year.  A recent study, conducted by the World Health Organization, concluded that AIDS is now the leading cause of death and disease for women between the ages of 15 and 44.  International AIDS Charity Avert estimated that there were 2 million children under the age of 15 in the world infected with HIV at the end of 2007. AIDS around the globe, including America, is a growing crisis that we as global citizens need to address.

Washington DC has the highest rate of AIDS of any city in the United States.   It is estimated that one In 33 DC residents is infected with HIV/AIDS giving DC an infection rate of 3%, though the number is believed to be higher.  According to The Washington Post, DC’s infection rate is comparable to San Francisco’s during the height of the AIDS epidemic and has double the infection rate of modern day New York City.  The Center for Disease Control views an infection rate of 1% to be a crisis yet the capital the United States has three times that number.

The nation’s capital is the perfect place to voice our concern and demand an ending to the epidemic, both in DC and abroad. During the start of the Obama administration, many promises regarding AIDS were made. Promises about increased global funding for US Global AIDS programs, access to affordable generic drugs in developing countries, and lifting the federal ban on federal funding of syringe exchange were all broken as none of the promises have materialized.

On December first, World AIDS day, Washington DC will urge the administration to follow through with their promises.  In an effort to inspire the US government to take action against the dire condition of the capital city, and in many places around the globe, DC Fights Back (www.dcfightsback.org), along with other groups including AIDemocracy, will be organizing a march/rally starting in Lafayette Park (the White House) at 12 pm and ending in Freedom Plaza at 2 pm.  The rally hopes to raise awareness of DC’s and the World’s AIDS crisis and inspire policy changes.

Interested in joining the rally? Just show up at the White House at 12pm on December first, OR for more information on joining the AIDemocracy team during the rally, contact Priti@aidemocracy.org.  On Facebook? You can RSVP for the rally and learn more about the issues there, visit: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=187734974082&ref=mf.

Yesterday, December 1st, or the 20th annual World AIDS Day, 5 incredible women came together at Georgetown University Medical Center to talk about the Feminization of HIV/AIDS. Their discussion took the form of a panel sponsored by Americans for Informed Democracy (AID), American Medical Student Association (AMSA), University Coalitions for Global Health (UCGH), Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), and the Georgetown Medical AIDS Advocacy Network (GMAAN) to host a panel for World AIDS Day on the feminization of HIV. The Panel included experts Jacqui Patterson form Women of Color United, Paola Barahona of PreventionWorks and Physicians for Human Rights, Carolyn Massey of Massmer Associates, and Crystal Lander from the center for Developemnt and Population Activities (CEDPA). The panel was a great success, due in main part to the views and perspectives of these women. The panel was also webcasted, and had more than 80 online and in-person viewers.

Probably most compelling was each woman’s perspective on why this thought HIV rates among women were increasing so dramatically. Each woman had a unique perspective, be it as a woman or color, an HIV+ individual, a community organizer, a doctor, an international health worker, or a combination of these designations.

All in all, the event was a great success, and a video podcast of the event will be available shortly here.

“We Must Never Forget and Never Relent in Our Fight Against AIDS”
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
World Aids Day, December 1, 2008
Original source:  Huffington Post Article

World Aids Day is a day to bear witness, to celebrate the progress we have made and to re-dedicate ourselves to the fight by telling our own personal stories. When experiences are shared from every corner of the globe, we remind the world of the urgency to act, and we renew our faith in the belief that one day soon we will eradicate the AIDS pandemic.

I witnessed the first outbreak of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s in Africa. As a physician and psychiatrist in the U.S. State Department, I traveled across the African continent serving U.S. missions and working with local leaders. At the time the AIDS virus was largely unknown and mysterious, and it spread with stunning and devastating ferocity from country to country, killing millions.

One couldn’t help but feel a sense of helplessness, but many of us resolved to fight this scourge from whatever vantage point we occupied. For me, that was the U.S. House of Representatives, which I entered in 1989. At the urging of then-Speaker Thomas S. Foley, I co-founded a congressional caucus on HIV/AIDS. It gave America a platform in which to educate and organize Congress against the threat.

Congressional colleagues representing every political viewpoint across America spoke with one passionate and determined voice to ensure that we would lead, not merely respond to this global crisis. And we have. Led by the United States, the world has gained ground against AIDS, inch by inch, but inextricably forward.

In 2003, an estimated 50,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa were receiving antiretroviral treatments to fight AIDS through various programs. Then, the U.S. launched PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, to urgently concentrate our efforts and it has been a tremendous success. Today in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1.7 million people are being treated, and we have provided care for almost seven million worldwide.

What’s more, our commitment remains strong. A few months ago, Congress passed and the President signed into law a PEPFAR re-authorization bill that takes major steps forward. It includes provisions I co-authored to strengthen our efforts to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and to significantly increase the number of infected children who will receive treatment. Every day, 1,000 children are born into the world infected with AIDS, and we believe this new legislation will cut that number in half.

Still, many of us are concerned. We fear the global economic crisis will jeopardize the life-saving success. Last year, the World Bank warned that poverty is much greater than previously estimated: 1.4 billion people worldwide live on about a dollar a day. And this alarm was sounded largely before the current economic crisis had unfolded. We have to address global poverty as part of our commitment to eradicate AIDS.

Furthermore, we know that the developed world is enticing trained personnel to relocate to meet our medical needs, but this leaves fragile and vulnerable developing countries dramatically short of healthcare professionals. Unless we address this shortage globally, we will undermine on one hand the very health and humanitarian efforts we support on the other hand.

There is no easy solution to the AIDS crisis, but there is a path to hope and those who have walked it, as I have, know that awareness unites the world. That’s why watching a PBS documentary like “We Will Not Die Like Dogs,” by filmmaker Lisa Russell, is so important. It can be seen at: http://www.SnagFilms.com. Many do not realize the impact AIDS is having on women and children worldwide, but the film will open our eyes and that is a major step forward.

We all hope for the day when medical research discovers an AIDS vaccine and it will come. Until then, we must never forget that we honor those who have died by fighting for those who are alive and for those yet to be born. In the final analysis, the shield that can protect us is our humanity that unites us.

Hi Everyone!

My name is Melanie and I am the new Reproductive Health Associate here at Americans for Informed Democracy.img_4409

Yesterday, over a thousand people (myself included) came together in Washington D.C. to hold President-elect Obama accountable to the promises he made to improve U.S. HIV/AIDS policies and programs both domestically and abroad. The election of Barack Obama is, for many HIV/AIDS activists, a light at the end of a grim tunnel that saw the Bush administration ignoring the needs of Americans living with HIV/AIDS and disseminating prevention programs to countries abroad that focused more on ideological beliefs than on best public health practices.

Over the past year, Obama has stated that he would create a national strategy to prevent HIV/AIDS and make care, treatment and housing a priority for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Obama has also committed to the removal of funding restrictions on needle exchange programs and PEPFAR prevention policies.

Despite the promises made along the campaign trail, we cannot afford to let our guard down and hope for the best. In fact, now, more than ever before, we need to make sure our voices are heard and that we mobilize to advance U.S. HIV/AIDS policies. The political capital of a new and popular President combined with Obama’s progressive stances on HIV/AIDS issues opens a large window for improvement.

Of course there are several special interest groups that would like Obama to focus on their cause, but yesterday’s rally was the FIRST to demonstrate in front of the Obama transition team’s office. The ingenuity of the AIDS advocacy community to reach out to the President-elect so early in the game proved to be a success and a member of the Obama transition team was gracious enough to come out and address the concerns of the crowd.

Overall, the World AIDS Day rally was the most hopeful demonstration I have ever attended; people were genuinely excited by the prospects of what the new Administration can accomplish in the fight against AIDS. But for this to happen, we need to continue to make our voices heard loud and clear.

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