Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Remember today is World AIDS Day
A red ribbon is displayed on the North Portico of the White House, Nov. 30, 2010, in advance of World AIDS Day
The Red Ribbon is the global symbol for solidarity with HIV-positive people and those living with AIDS.
World AIDS Day, observed December 1 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. It is common to hold memorials to honor persons who have died from HIV/AIDS on this day. Government and health officials also observe the event, often with speeches or forums on the AIDS topics. Since 1995, the President of the United States has made an official proclamation on World AIDS Day. Governments of other nations have followed suit and issued similar announcements.
AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, and an estimated 33.2 million people worldwide live with HIV as of 2007, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 2 million lives in 2007, of which about 270,000 were children.
World AIDS Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Bunn and Netter took their idea to Dr. Jonathan Mann, Director of the Global Programme on AIDS (now known as UNAIDS). Dr. Mann liked the concept, approved it, and agreed with the recommendation that the first observance of World AIDS Day should be 1 December, 1988.
Bunn, a broadcast journalist on a leave-of-absence from his reporting duties at KPIX-TV in San Francisco, recommended the date of 1 December believing it would maximize coverage by western news media. Since 1988 was an election year in the U.S., Bunn suggested that media outlets would be weary of their post-election coverage and eager to find a fresh story to cover. Bunn and Netter determined that 1 December was long enough after the election and soon enough before the Christmas holidays that it was, in effect, a dead spot in the news calendar and thus perfect timing for World AIDS Day.
On 18 June, 1986 KPIX'S “AIDS Lifeline," a community education project, was honored with a Presidential Citation for Private Sector Initiatives presented by President Ronald Reagan. Because of his role as a co-creator of "AIDS Lifeline" Bunn was asked by Dr. Mann, on behalf of the U.S. government, to take a two-year leave-of-absence to join Dr. Mann, an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control, and assist in the creation of the Global Programme on AIDS for the United Nations' World Health Organization. Mr. Bunn accepted and was named the first Public Information Officer for the Global Programme on AIDS. Along with Mr. Netter Bunn conceived, designed, and implemented the inaugural World AIDS Day observance – now the longest-running disease awareness and prevention initiative of its kind in the history of public health.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) became operational in 1996, and it took over the planning and promotion of World AIDS Day. Rather than focus on a single day, UNAIDS created the World AIDS Campaign in 1997 to focus on year-round communications, prevention and education.
In its first two years, the theme of World AIDS Day focused on children and young people. These themes were strongly criticized at the time for ignoring the fact that people of all ages may become infected with HIV and suffer from AIDS.
But the themes drew attention to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, helped alleviate some of the stigma surrounding the disease, and helped boost recognition of the problem as a family disease.
In 2004, the World AIDS Campaign became an independent organization.
Each year, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have released a greeting message for patients and doctors on World AIDS Day!
Presidential Proclamation--World AIDS Day
WORLD AIDS DAY, 2010
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On this World AIDS Day, as we approach the thirtieth year of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, we reflect on the many Americans and others around the globe lost to this devastating disease, and pledge our support to the 33 million people worldwide who live with HIV/AIDS. We also recommit to building on the great strides made in fighting HIV, to preventing the spread of the disease, to continuing our efforts to combat stigma and discrimination, and to finding a cure.
Today, we are experiencing a domestic HIV epidemic that demands our attention and leadership. My Administration has invigorated our response to HIV by releasing the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. Its vision is an America in which new HIV infections are rare, and when they do occur, all persons regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic circumstance will have unfettered access to high quality, life extending care.
Signifying a renewed level of commitment and urgency, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States focuses on comprehensive, evidence based approaches to preventing HIV in high risk communities. It strengthens efforts to link and retain people living with HIV into care, and lays out new steps to ensure that the United States has the workforce necessary to serve Americans living with HIV. The Strategy also provides a path for reducing HIV related health disparities by adopting community level approaches to preventing and treating this disease, including addressing HIV related discrimination.
Along with this landmark Strategy, we have also made significant progress with the health reform law I signed this year, the Affordable Care Act. For far too long, Americans living with HIV and AIDS have endured great difficulties in obtaining adequate health insurance coverage and quality care. The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurance companies from using HIV status and other pre-existing conditions as a reason to deny health care coverage to children as of this year, and to all Americans beginning in 2014. To ensure that individuals living with HIV/AIDS can access the care they need, the Affordable Care Act ends lifetime limits and phases out annual limits on coverage. Starting in 2014, it forbids insurance companies from charging higher premiums because of HIV status, and introduces tax credits that will make coverage more affordable for all Americans. This landmark law also provides access to insurance coverage through the Pre Existing Condition Insurance Plan for the uninsured with chronic conditions.
Our Government has a role to play in reducing stigma, which is why my Administration eliminated the entry ban that previously barred individuals living with HIV/AIDS from entering the United States. As a result, the 2012 International AIDS Conference will be held in Washington, D.C., the first time this important meeting will be hosted by the United States in over two decades. For more information about our commitment to fighting this epidemic and the stigma surrounding it, I encourage all Americans to visit: www.AIDS.gov.
Tackling this disease requires a shared response that builds on the successes achieved to date. Globally, tens of millions of people have benefited from HIV prevention, treatment, and care programs supported by the American people. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria support anti retroviral treatments for millions around the world. My Administration has also made significant investments and increases in our efforts to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS at home and abroad by implementing a comprehensive package of proven prevention programs and improving the health of those in developing countries. Additionally, the Global Health Initiative integrates treatment and care with other interventions to provide a holistic approach to improving the health of people living with HIV/AIDS. Along with our global partners, we will continue to focus on saving lives through effective prevention activities, as well as other smart investments to maximize the impact of each dollar spent.
World AIDS Day serves as an important reminder that HIV/AIDS has not gone away. More than one million Americans currently live with HIV/AIDS in the United States, and more than 56,000 become infected each year. For too long, this epidemic has loomed over our Nation and our world, taking a devastating toll on some of the most vulnerable among us. On World AIDS Day, we mourn those we have lost and look to the promise of a brighter future and a world without HIV/AIDS.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim December 1, 2010, as World AIDS Day. I urge the Governors of the States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and the American people to join in appropriate activities to remember the men, women, and children who have lost their lives to AIDS and to provide support and comfort to those living with this disease.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty fifth.