Today is World AIDS Day

Predictions state that by the end of 2002, 45 million people worldwide will be living with AIDS or HIV. In 2000, AIDS claimed the lives of 3 million people: 8000 people a day. 14000 cases of HIV infection occur each day. And yet, HIV and AIDS are not an issue for many people - "It wont happen to me". 95% of all AIDS cases occur in the poorest countries in the world. In Kenya, 40% of women are HIV positive, 40% of women WILL die needlessly, from something which could have been held off, or, at best, prevented.

As you read this, communities are being devastated by AIDS, lives destroyed, talent wasted, hope eliminated. Perhaps it doesn't matter to you because no one you know is HIV positive. Or is it because people with HIV are dirty/gay/poor/prostitutes? Maybe because you see AIDS in Africa, not in the UK, the US, Canada or Japan? 'Stigma and discrimination' is the theme for this World AIDS Day. People who live with AIDS and HIV have to contend not only with their medical problems, but the stereotypes that are placed upon them, regardless of whether they are from a developed country or not. Yes, there are support groups, charities and so on, but there are also MILLIONS who are ostracised, isolated, rejected, assaulted and so on as a consequence of their condition. Responsibility for the situation is absolved by blaming 'gays' 'prossies' and so on.

I don't want to preach, I just want to ask. Please, whatever your 'take' on AIDS, think about it. Don't judge too quickly. Give what you can. Pray, if you are so inclined. Keep on giving your support. Learn about AIDS. Tell others. The only way we, the global community, can combat OUR problem is by defeating ignorance.

I'm not trying to condemn everyone as ignorant in this wu, nor am I saying I know everything there is to know - I'm just trying to reach people who maybe don't know/think/care about the situation so please don't think I'm being patronising! :-)

Sources: "Episcope" - Bristol Uni chaplaincy newsletter

If you want to do something, the charity ActionAid does some good stuff and could use your help