World AIDS Day

By Tonya Solis-Mosby, volunter contributor, American Red Cross

It crept into our lives in 1981 as a disease mysteriously affecting circles of gay men. In the years that followed, it was discovered that not only were gay men at risk, but everyone; men, women and children. And race or sexual preference didn’t matter at all.

In 1983, the American Red Cross issued the first safety warnings about this hideous disease we now all know as AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

On December 1, 2011, people worldwide will pause to recognize World AIDS Day – a day set aside by the World Health Organization in 1988 as the day to raise awareness and to help stop the spread of AIDS and HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus, an infection that can lead to AIDS.

Between 1981 and 2007, AIDS has killed more than 25 million people. As of 2007, an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide lived with HIV, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Throughout this battle, the American Red Cross and our worldwide partners in health have been there to provide lifesaving education and prevention skills.

Through classes such as “HIV/AIDS Education/Blood Borne Pathogens”, people can become more aware of HIV transmission and prevention and get the real facts about HIV and AIDS. The Red Cross HIV/AIDS programs provide opportunities to reach youth through videos, brochures, workbooks, comic books and other age-appropriate educational materials to give them the knowledge to spark open discussions about HIV/AIDS prevention with their parents and other adults in their lives.

One Red Cross program, Act SMART, encourages healthy behavior through materials divided in units to cater to different age groups ages 6 to 17; another program is The Party, a video package which provides HIV-prevention educational materials for people ages 13 to 15.

The Red Cross touch on HIV and AIDS doesn’t stop in the United States. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement have come together to provide “Living with…” an educational program produced by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and supported by a video that helps people enhance HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
“Living with…” gives viewers a peek into the struggles of living day-to-day with HIV/AIDS. It also demonstrates the need for a supportive and tolerant environment for the people who must endure that struggle.

This program encourages people to:

  • Break the silence
  • Actively encourage voluntary counseling and testing
  • Involve people living with HIV/AIDS in the educational efforts
  • Develop HIV/AIDS friendly human resource policies
  • Include HIV/AIDS in all relevant policies and programs
  • Be an advocate
  • Build partnerships

Click here to watch the “Living with…” video and then share it with others:

As people around the world stop to remember all of those who have died because of this disease, and to recognize the struggles of the millions who live with HIV/AIDS each day, the American Red Cross reminds you that we can all help. Spread the word. Be supportive. Share the facts with others. Together, we can end this disease.

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