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December 1st 2008 was World AIDS day. It marked the 20th anniversary of World AIDS day, which was established in 1988. More than forty million people around the world are currently living with HIV/AIDS and another five million people contract this disease each year.
At Scarleteen, our main focus is on young people. Young adults are a group who sometimes feel that issues such as HIV/AIDS don’t affect them. But actually, this affects all of us. 40% of all new HIV infections occur among young people aged 15-24 years old.
Perhaps you’re a young woman like me. Did you know that adolescent women are the fastest growing group contracting HIV/AIDS around the world? In sub-Saharan Africa, there are 3.2 million young people are living with HIV and three young women are infected for every young man. There are similar proportions in North Africa and South East Asia. Do you feel outraged by this? I do!
I’d like to echo the words of Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, who stated in 2002: “Young people are the key in the fight against AIDS. By giving them the support they need, we can empower them to protect themselves against the virus. By giving them honest and straightforward information, we can break the circle of silence across all society. By creating effective campaigns for education and prevention, we can turn young people’s enthusiasm, drive, and dreams for the future into powerful tools for attacking the epidemic.”
So, in that spirit of empowerment, support and knowledge seeking, I leave you these links:
Positively Informed: An HIV/AIDS Roundup
Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS
UNIFEM on HIV/AIDS
AVERT: World AIDS Day