Friday, November 30, 2007

Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise

Keep the Promise, is the theme for this years World AIDS Day, which is observed on December 1st. This struggle became personal for us this year when Marta, a young Honduran mother whom we met many years ago, passed away just days after we checked in with her.
“I’ve been fighting this disease for four years,” she later pointed out, careful not to name the illness for fear of yielding even more power to its presence. “I suffer. My children suffer.”

We all sat in silence. We knew that Marta was suffering from AIDS. We tried to encourage her, but our sentiments fell flat. Our words were simply too little, too late.

Marta, brave and humble, admitted that all she really needed was a fence around her home so her children could safely play when she was no longer there to look after them. We exchanged glances, a reminder to do what we could when we returned to Kansas City.

A week later, Marta died. (Hear Marta tell her story here.)
According to UNAIDS estimates, 33.2 million people are living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2007 some 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.

Around 95% of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing nations. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on every continent around the world.

Started on December 1st, 1988, World AIDS Day is not just about raising money, but also about increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there is still much to be done.

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