World AIDS Day signifies a call to action

As World AIDS Day is celebrated around the globe today, there are many who hope the disease will soon be eradicated – however, it is recognized that there is still a long way to go.

The world would like to hear the message, especially on this day, that there is a cure. People everywhere would like to hear that the 40 million people living with HIV are able to receive a cure that would rid them of the virus that leads to a deadly disease.

A vaccination for the HIV virus is the route that most researchers believe will most likely yield a cure. However, they predict that solidifying this cure will not happen anytime soon.

“I think we’ve made some advances in making antibodies that will react with the variety of strains of HIV,” said Robert Gallo, director of the Institute for Human Virology at the University of Maryland, in a Reuters story. “We are making progress with a preventive vaccine, but we are not there yet.”

Until that day, the awareness of AIDS in the public consciousness is a must. The first World AIDS Day was celebrated on Dec. 1, 1988, aiming to “open worldwide channels of communication, strengthen the exchange of information and experience and forge a spirit of social action,” the American Red Cross Web site said.

This year’s theme is “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise,” and was commissioned by UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS) to remind world governments that AIDS cannot be put on the backburner in terms of funding and attention, even in the wake of devastating natural disasters that have been occurring steadily since last year.

Events organized by UNAIDS and other AIDS awareness organizations – such as one sponsored by UNAIDS to be held in New York City this evening – are wonderful ways to raise the public consciousness. Speeches, musical performances and even poems can communicate the severity of this worldwide problem in a moving, personal way.

However, World AIDS Day was not created merely to produce pretty songs and nice poems. These events, and others like it, are meant to be the beginning of action – action by governments and people of the world.

There is much that can be done. Write to your local representatives for better quality education programs about AIDS prevention. Organize community fund-raisers for AIDS organizations or volunteer to be a caregiver if you have the training and ability.

These tasks need to be carried out so that in the near future, World AIDS Day can be a day to celebrate the eradication of a deadly epidemic.