Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Red Ribbons, Universal Access and Human Rights


World AIDS Day 2010, held on December 1st, highlights the HIV and AIDS crisis this year through the mantra that we all have the basic human right of access to information, prevention methods, and treatment of illness.

World AIDS Day reports that according to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2009 some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS. Additionally, Avert.org says that in low and middle income countries, less than half of those in need of antiretroviral therapy are receiving it, and too many do not have access to adequate care services.

In the DRC, the stripping of basic human rights is amplified in the HIV/AIDS struggle. Not only does the lack of political stability decrease citizens' access to care and treatment of disease, civil unrest and crimes against the people, such as rape and kidnapping, increase the instance and likelihood of transmission of disease. Thus, the DRC has one of the largest growing HIV populations in the world, the national average of adult prevalence hitting 450,000 (comparatively, the UK has 90,000 living with HIV).

The epidemic is strongest among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 and women accessing at antenatal clinics, and is on the rise. The driver of the epidemic is concurrent multiple sexual partners. The most severely affected age groups are 20–29 years among women and 30–39 years among men. The epidemic has severely affected children – an estimated 320,000 children younger than 17 years had lost one or both parents to AIDS at the end of 2003. Surveillance data indicates higher prevalence in the eastern part of the country than in the west. ~ From HIV in Humanitarian Situations

One of the most simple yet powerful things you can do is wear a red ribbon this Wednesday, because for us, the people at ground level, it symbolizes public consciousness where the necessity for individual, community and national consciousness is paramount in the effort to increase awareness, and thus achieve universal access. The red ribbon speaks without speaking. It reminds your co-workers, friends, family and fellow citizens that HIV and AIDS are still worldwide epidemics that claim millions of lives, and threaten family structure and country stability. It reminds them that you care, and so should they. That awareness is a crucial step in eliminating HIV and AIDS.

We at DRC ApeParel believe in driving social consciousness at all levels and for causes that offer the promise of saved lives and a more connected, positive global community. One way to do this is to encourage you to respect your body, take responsibility for your sexual health and get tested. Check out some FAQs on getting tested and hear peoples' stories on HIV: Reality from the National AIDS Trust.

Get educated. Get tested. Get involved. It's cool to be conscious!

AIDS history from Compassion International
Recent articles on AIDS rights in the Congo
Raise funds with Avert.org
Order red ribbons through World AIDS Day

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