December 1st is World AIDS Day!

According to the most recent AIDS statistics in the world, there are currently 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children, across the globe—95% of those live in developing nations.

What's even more tragic is that AIDS numbers are raising, with approximately 2.5 million people newly infected with the virus in 2007. Half of these individuals are 25 years old or younger, and succumb to the disease before they reach the age of 35.

AIDS and HIV is still as much of a killer today as it's ever been. It doesn't discriminate between gender or age, and it can afflict men, women and children on all continents around the world.

December 1st, 1988 marked the first official World AIDS Day. Today, this day is still about raising money, increasing AIDS awareness, fighting prejudice and improving AIDS and HIV education around the world, as we remind people that HIV is still a very real threat, and that many things can still be done to help prevent further AIDS and HIV affliction – especially through education.

However, you might be left thinking, “What can I do to support World AIDS Day?”

AIDS and HIV awareness and fundraising can be done on a community level, in the classroom and even in the workplace. The more you do, even individually, to help promote awareness and funds, the closer we are to educating our youth and promoting a cure to end this tragic disease.

How To Help In Your Community

  • Invite a local HIV testing center/clinic to local college and university campuses on December 1st.
  • Ask local bars to give out free condoms and World AIDS Day in the weeks leading up to December 1st.
  • Approach local businesses and encourage them to host a Business Responds to AIDS Program to educate staff employees on non-discrimination laws. Or ask them to insert donation forms for World AIDS Day messages in pay stubs.
  • Volunteer with state and regional health and medical facilities and organizations that promote community HIV and AIDS awareness, needle exchange programs and birth control/safe sex education.
  • Visit schools and community centers – to help develop workshops for parents and youth on AIDS and HIV education that will help influence the behavior of future generations.
  • Organize guest speakers and community panels that will visit schools and community centers to talk about sensitive issues—such as teen pregnancy, safe sex and drug use.
  • Research your community to find out the social statistics or the most at risk population. Then distribute your findings to health care professionals and schools.
  • Contact your local media to alert them to World AIDS Day, and help them plan events in your community.
  • Put up flyers to enlist volunteers to help plan an HIV/AIDS fund-raising walk or run.
  • Create HIV/AIDS Factsheets to hand out a medical clinics (ask first if they will allow their distribution).
  • Hold a toy drive for children infected with HIV/AIDS.
  • Write your local politicians to show support of increased HIV/AIDS funding.
  • Hold a battle of the bands or a musical performances focused on educating youth about AIDS and HIV.
  • Donate to a local AIDS/HIV program on behalf of your community.

How to help youth

  • Create an anonymous question box and place them in classrooms where students can leave questions that will be answered by teachers or social workers in a discreet manner.
  • Start a youth HIV/AIDS awareness educational program where students can educate others and contribute through volunteer and fundraising efforts.
  • Invite an individual (a youth for greatest impact) with AIDS or HIV to visit the school as an educational guest speaker.
  • Contact the school board to advocate life skills training, sexual health education, and AIDS education in your local schools.
  • Encourage teachers to show educational videos (like Degrassi) where other teens discuss issues such as safe sex, HIV, AIDS, abstinence and teen relationships.
  • Show films or hold a film festival/discussion about films dealing with HIV/AIDS—such as Jeffrey, The Cure, Playing by Heart, Kids, Boys on the Side, Common Threads, Philadelphia, A Mother's Prayer, and Bloodbrothers, The Joey DiPaolo Story (please check for appropriate ratings).

For more information on or HIV and AIDS please visit the following sites:
Official site for World AIDS Day 2008
World Health Organization
The Foundation for AIDS Research
Canadian Aids Society
The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS
Elton John Aids Foundation
The AIDS Memorial Quilt
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

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