World AIDS Day focuses on prevention of infection
World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1.
This organized effort is designed to encourage public support and development of programs to prevent the spread of HIV infection and to provide education and awareness of issues surrounding HIV/AIDS.
World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988 after a summit of health ministers from around the world called for a spirit of social tolerance and a greater exchange of information on HIV/AIDS.
World AIDS Day serves to strengthen the global effort to face the challenges of the AIDS pandemic, which continues to spread throughout every region of the world. World AIDS Day also aims to increase awareness of the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in all communities despite new hope in treatment.
As of 1999, 33.4 million men, women and children worldwide were estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS. If current trends continue, nearly 40 million adults will be infected with HIV by the year 2000.
In 1998, nearly 3 million children and young people became infected with HIVabout 590,000 children under 15 and more than 2.5 million 15 to 24-year olds. In the United States, 688,200 people had been reported infected with HIV/AIDS as of 1998.
All communities are affected by the continuing spread of AIDS. In the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, which includes Leavenworth County, there have been 3,675 reported cases of AIDS through June 1999.
The World AIDS Day 1999 theme is "AIDS End the Silence Listen, Learn Live!
We must end the silence by focusing on open communication about HIV/AIDS, especially among those under the age of 25.
Only when people are willing to discuss openly HIV and its surrounding issues will we begin to remove the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS.
We must "LISTEN" to others as they speak about HIV and about their fears and misconceptions. We must hear what is important in the lives of young
people and engage them in conversation about issues such as sex, sexuality, and HIV/AIDS.
We must live in a manner that serves as a model of safe behaviors that prevent the spread of HIV. We must start early talking with young people about HIV to reduce the spread of the virus and to ease the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. If HIV prevention fails among the young, we will have to face the staggering human and economic cost at vast numbers of new AIDS cases.
Information courtesy of The American Association For World Health and Blaine Saunders, program coordinator for HIV/AIDS programs, Leavenworth County Health Department, 620 Olive Street, Leavenworth, Kansas 66048, 913-684-0730.
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