Yesterday as its editor, I worked on the Sunday by Sunday issues for Advent, Christmas, and after. The Two Feet feature in the issue for the 1st Sunday of Advent recommends observing World AIDS Day, December 1, by visiting UNAIDS. The World Health Organization initiated this day to reduce the shame and spread of AIDS. The AIDS quilt project to remember those who died grew out of this awareness building. At UNAIDS I found current statistics. To date world wide, 60 million have died.
In 2000 the United Nations made halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS one of its eight Millennium Development Goals to achieve by 2015, a year drawing near. New infections are down. Anti-retrovirus drugs allow some 33 million people to live with HIV, five million more surviving than in 2005. About two million people still die each year. Sixteen million children have lost their parents.
A colleague emailed a professor friend finishing up her last two weeks on a Fulbright grant in Zambia. The numbers above are just statistics to most of us in the U.S. but in Zambia it’s daily life. The friend writes,
“The Fulbright evaluation asks what cultural events I attend. All I could reply was to note all the funerals I have attended or contributed money to. So many adults dying—AIDS is always alluded to but never acknowledged.”