Today is World AIDS Day: a day where 5,500 people will die of AIDS and 8,200 more will become infected with HIV – 152 of them in the United States of America. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS just released a report that says that AIDS is the leading cause of death globally in women of reproductive age. We know that HIV is a worldwide crisis, already devastating countries across the globe and poised to ravage others… unless we continue to work to stop AIDS. If you’re a regular blog reader, you know I’m not a person who just spews statistics; you know I like action (see previous posts about work with youth in the USA, youth in Peru, outreach in the USA and Peru, and advocacy). So for this World AIDS Day, I want to share with you some things you can do to help stop AIDS.
- Volunteer in your local community. The HIV/AIDS Resource Center is Ann Arbor’s local AIDS service organization and is always accepting volunteers. You can also contact the Washtenaw Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (WIHAN) to volunteer. You can find non-governmental organizations around the world in the Global South through the International AIDS Alliance.
- Educate yourself and spread your knowledge. Correct myths and discriminatory and stigmatizing language when you hear it. Good resources: UNAIDS - Kaiser Family Foundation – CDC - MDCH - Avert – AIDS.gov – google.org
- Get yourself tested for HIV. Free testing is offered all week in the local community (see complete listing here), or you can text your zip code to “KNOWIT” (566948) to find a local testing site.
- Support organizations serving people living with HIV by donating directly to them rather than buying some product that only contributes a minuscule portion of its profits. Your donation goes further when it goes directly to the organization.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local media source, call into radio stations, and send emails to friends, family and colleagues with things people can do. Describe the epidemic in your local community and challenge people to act. Call on elected officials to fund important services that keep people alive.
- Attend World AIDS Day and World AIDS Week educational and action events near you. The Ann Arbor area has many events going on this week – see a complete listing on the World AIDS Week website.
- Be creative and use your skills to make a difference in your community!