World AIDS Day – spread the word, not the virus

December 1st 2010 is World AIDS day.  Celebrities all over the globe have come together to spread a simple message, “AIDS can be defeated”.

As has been the case since 1988 when the first World AIDS Day occurred, experts, film and music stars are continuing to extol the virtues of education as the best way to combat HIV and AIDS.

The disease is spread through blood, mucus membrane contact or breast milk – one of the main reasons African nations have been hit so hard.  According to UNAIDS 2009 report, 14 million orphaned African children have been diagnosed as HIV positive.

U2 front man, Bono, while on tour in Australia said that the battle with AIDS is a “winnable war” and children born as soon as 2015 could be the first generation in more than 30 years to live outside the shadow of the deadly virus.

He also added, “Some people think that the pandemic is on its way out and it’s job done. It is really not so.”

Elton John is also leading the charge for World AIDS Day after he lost several close friends to the disease, including Freddie Mercury of Queen and 80’s TV funny man Kenny Everett.

John has written an editorial for British newspaper The Independent which has decorated its front cover with a rose by Gary Hume, which symbolises the fight against AIDS.

John’s editorial piece said that the rose, “depicts flowers, symbolic of something which flourishes and then dies: I think it’s a powerful statement about the struggle against Aids.”

Elsewhere organisations such as have released short educational videos to highlight the problems and prejudices faced by HIV and AIDS sufferers.  There are antiretrovirus medications available which can help slow the deterioration caused by HIV, but pharmaceutical companies charge high prices for them, making them largely unobtainable for the people who need them most.  To date there is no actual cure or vaccination.

Avert’s video is similar to an approach taken in the mid 90’s when, through a system of education programs in California aimed at the homosexual community, subsequent new cases of HIV were reduced by 80% thereafter, proving the success of education.

As Bono says, it is a winnable war but only if people play safe and get themselves educated about HIV and AIDS, a disease which is currently estimated to have affected over 60 million people and has to date killed over 25 million.

Join in and spread the word on World AIDS day.

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