Today is the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. According to statistics from UNAIDS, there are 33 million people living with HIV worldwide, 2 million of which are children under the age of 15. Last year, 2 million people died from HIV. Today, the National Post wrote about how Canada will help cure the biggest humanitarian health crisis of our time:
Canada is poised, yet again, to play a leading role in advancing knowledge about HIV/AIDS to help find a cure. With the partnership announced in 2007 between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the government of Canada to establish the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative, we are now one of the countries pioneering the next stage. This commitment of $139-million is a major boost to Canadian and international HIV/AIDS vaccine research and development efforts. Through this funding, a manufacturing facility will be built in Canada that will produce promising vaccines that can move more quickly to clinical trials. Stephen Lewis has declared this initiative an "important step forward," a sentiment shared by HIV/AIDS organizations around the world.
Stephen Lewis, a Canadian, was the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. You can learn more about the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative here.
Closer to home, HIV Edmonton has compiled a list of community events taking place today. The largest event is a non-denominational evening ceremony followed by a candlelight walk:
WHAT: World AIDS Day, December 1, 2008, 7:00pm
WHERE: Citadel Theatre, 9828 101A Avenue NW. Room TBA.
Please RSVP to Sue Ann Paydli via email or call 780-488-5742 ext. 221.
They point to the World AIDS Campaign website as an additional resource. You can learn more about the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) at Wikipedia, and for local information and events, check out HIV Edmonton.
I think what Terry Duguid said in the National Post is true, “it is easy for those of us in Canada who may not be directly affected by HIV/AIDS to become complacent.” I guess I am guilty of that. It’s only recently that I’ve become engaged, with events like the Aids Walk for Life. I’ve had Stephanie Nolan’s book 28 Stories of AIDS in Africa on my shelf for a while now, but haven’t gotten around to reading it. I really must do that.
Stop Aids. Keep the promise.