World AIDS Day is observed every year on December 1st. The World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988. World AIDS Day provides governments, national AIDS programs, faith organizations, community organizations, and individuals with an opportunity to raise awareness and focus attention on the global AIDS epidemic.
Why is it relevant to us? (I’m hoping you know the answer to this one). According to the Kaiser Family Foundation: African Americans account for a growing share of AIDS diagnoses over time, rising from 25% of cases diagnosed in 1985 to 49% in 2004. Check out the whole report. Furthermore, AIDS has had a terrifying impact on Black people globally, killing 10s of millions and infecting millions more. Over 2/3 of people infected with HIV live in Africa. The disease disproportionately effects poor people, and consequently people of color, particularly in “developing” nations like Haiti where over 6% of the entire population is infected. Make no mistake brothers and sisters, AIDS is a Pan-African epidemic and requires our attention.
Here in Syracuse we’ve been active all week. The Black Graduate Student Organization has provided free testing, screenings, performances, workshops and information sessions, in recognition of the significance of this epidemic. World Aids Day may not be able to cure all of the people affected by AIDS/ HIV, but it does strike a reminder in the minds and hearts of millions and in our often complacent society this is very important. This World Aids Day will commemorate the 26th anniversary since the first published reports of AIDS.
As Danielle so eloquently stated last World AIDS Day: the one thing we can do is to not forget. AIDS has one day where the world is reminded of its presence but that does not mean we have to stop the fight. As I suggested during Breast Cancer Awareness month make whatever little move of support be it wearing a color or pin, or starting a topic on a listserv. Just do something, blackademics. Because our small movements are bound to cause a ripple effect, be it in the arenas of health disparities regarding AIDS and Cancer awareness or in civil rights. Knowledge is power. Check out Blackaids or World AIDS Day 2007 for more information on the state of AIDS within the African diaspora.