Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Happy World AIDS Day

IMG_1121It is World AIDS Day today, December 1st, a day dedicated to raising awareness about HIV and AIDS, commemorating those who have died because of AIDS, and celebrating life, with and without HIV. Here in Dublin I didn't manage to make it to the annual Michael Kelly lecture for World AIDS Day, or to any other events, of which there were sadly quite few. There were particularly no parties or celebrations, or none that I heard of, which is a pity as I think today is a day to celebrate life. I usually wish people "Happy World AIDS Day" which often provokes a startled or bemused look in response, but to me this really is a day to celebrate life, and the struggle to live it, with illness and healing, death and joy, pain and care and everything else that is part of that struggle.

I did manage to wear a couple of AIDS ribbons throughout the day, and was heartened to go to a meeting where at least 3 other people were all wearing one, none of whom work specifically on the pandemic. I also gave three people ribbons, two of whom immediately put theirs on, and the other asked what it meant, so in some small way at least I felt that I helped raise awareness.

The theme for 2009, determined by the World AIDS Campaign, is Universal Access and Human Rights, perhaps particularly suitable as we're still in the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed on December 10th 1948. This is also day 7 of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, a long-running international campaign which begins every year on 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ends on December 10th, International Human Rights Day.

While such days of international awareness-raising can have limited uses, at least they can stimulate action on these topics and provide a focus for campaigning. I'd hope that someday there will no longer be any need for World AIDS Day, that the disease will have been cured, there will be no more new infections, and all those living with HIV will have the treatment they need to live full and long lives. Until that day, I'll keep wearing the red ribbon.


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