Wednesday, December 02, 2009

World AIDS Day: Pain and Prejudice

I'm late as usual, but it doesn't really matter. Because every day of the year is World AIDS Day.

The 2009 AIDS epidemic update released last week estimated that 33.4 million people are living with HIV worldwide, 2.7 million were newly infected in 2008 and 2 million died of AIDS related illness in 2008.

So many people dying. So many people suffering. So many orphans. So much pain.

Not enough medicine.

But while 4 million people are now getting AIDS drugs worldwide - a 10-fold jump in five years - 5 million others are still in dire need of the medicine, U.N. health officials estimated in a report in September.

Too much prejudice.

In many parts of the world, legislation effectively criminalizes populations living with HIV or vulnerable to HIV infection, such as sex workers, drug users, and men who have sex with men. These laws fuel stigma and discrimination, increase barriers to HIV information and treatment, and contribute to the spread of disease.

The Ugandan Parliament is also considering a bill that allows for a seven year prison term for any person or organization who supports or promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people's rights. It would jail for up to three years anyone who fails to report a person they suspect of being lesbian or gay. A person living with HIV who has consensual homosexual sex would face the death penalty, regardless of risk of HIV transmission and even if their partner is also HIV-positive..

We could do so much more to end this horrible epidemic.


For all those who have died. For all those who are living with HIV, like my friend Billy.

And our friend Kenn.

Keep the message alive. World AIDS Day is EVERY DAY.

Everyone has a right to life and health.

And we must do MORE...

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