Today is World AIDS Day – a day established by the World Health Organization back in 1988 in order to focus attention worldwide on HIV/AIDS. When HIV/AIDS was first diagnosed back in the 1980’s it was considered lethal, an automatic death sentence. Now, after three decades of education, research, and response, there is some good news to share.
Last month, the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) released a report in anticipation of World AIDS Day that led with the news that HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic. Incidences of new infections have been reduced by 21% with deaths also decreasing by more than 20%. That’s something to talk about.
However, we’re still looking at some staggering numbers. There were still more than 34 million people living with HIV at the end of 2010. And it may no longer be a death sentence, but treatment is expensive, transmission education isn’t always effective, and the government doesn’t always make room to support AIDS relief efforts in their programming. That’s why UNAIDS has declared itself “an innovative partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.”
And this year UNAIDS has made a commitment to meeting those goal with the help of the crowd with a crowdsourcing initiative called CrowdOutAIDS.
CrowdOutAIDS is a project that embraces collaboration and is specifically targeted at youth affected by HIV/AIDS. Its work is laid out in four steps: connect, share, find solutions, and take collective action, the idea being that the youth will be a part of the strategies that inform UNAIDS for future generations.
What’s really great about this initiative is that it’s tailored for the next generation that definitely lives online. It’s empowering them in their home territory and with a problem as pressing as HIV/AIDS that has already lasted for three decades, empowering the young to continue to take ownership and make changes in the future that’s waiting for them – well, it’s the right idea.
Obviously, we’re also facing this problem across a technological divide. Of the world’s AIDS population, nearly two-thirds are in Africa and without regular access to the internet and projects or resources like CrowdOutAIDS. However, sharing the level of responsibility as broadly as we are now, can still only help (in my humble opinion).
How can we be more inclusive about problems that affect all of us so broadly? What are some other ways to participate on World AIDS Day?