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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
November 26, 2004

World AIDS Day Special Issue

Think globally, act locally

Across the planet, December 1, 2004 marks World AIDS Day.

The event began in 1988 to draw attention to the growing global crisis of AIDS, a pandemic affecting every inhabited continent.

The following year, a parallel observance, Day Without Art, was started to draw attention to the disease and the prominent faces in the arts who had succumbed to it. In 1997, Day Without Art was, in some places, changed to Day With Art, supporting increased HIV-education programs in the arts communities. Whether it is with or without art, however, it coincides with World AIDS Day and provids those who work in the arts a means by which they can work for increased awareness of the disease.

Each year, World AIDS Day has a specific theme. This year�s theme is �Have you heard me today?� and focuses on women and girls with HIV. Last year focused on stigma and discrimination with the tag line, �Live and Let Live.�

With the onset of the first identified cases of HIV in 1981, in North America HIV and AIDS was first viewed as a disease of Haitian immigrants, of gay men and intravenous drug users. The Reagan administration did little to stem the spread of disease. Partly because of that, over half a million people in the United State died of AIDS by the end of 2002.

In Africa, AIDS is ravaging the continent. Over 25 million people are living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, and over two million deaths have been reported.

Even China and Russia, two countries known for their reticence in admitting problems to the West, have acknowledged the growing plague.

Of course, strides have been made since the early days of the disease, when fear and death were the only two certainties.

�The cocktail,� a combination of protease inhibitors, has drastically extended the lives and increased the quality of life for countless people living with HIV.

That treatment is costly, and the vast majority of people across the world cannot afford it. Even those who can afford it know that they run the risk of developing a tolerance towards the medications, meaning that they might eventually lose their effectiveness.

And worse, in America as much as in the poorest village of the �third world,� millions of people cannot afford care, and the government is simply not doing enough to help them.

So on December 1, remember the progress made in fighting HIV, but also remember the struggles still facing the millions of women and girls, and men and boys, living with the disease, and honor the memory of those who have succumbed to AIDS.

 

 

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