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World AIDS Day 2002: IAPAC Calls for Recommitment to Struggle, End to HIV Discrimination

November 27, 2002

Chicago, Illinois, USA -- In recognition of World AIDS Day 2002, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) calls upon the citizens and governments of the world to recommit themselves to battling HIV/AIDS and to fighting the various forms of gender, ethnic, racial, sexual, and social discrimination and stigma that engender its spread around the globe.

"From its first discovery, HIV/AIDS has disproportionately affected those whom the powerful and inherited of the world too easily ignore," stated IAPAC President/CEO José M. Zuniga. "Consequently, AIDS has never received the attention and commitment it deserves as a human catastrophe of epic and ever growing proportions."

"According to one mode of discriminatory thinking, AIDS is a disease of homosexuals and drug users -- not something the 'average' person need worry about," Zuniga said. "And in more recent years, as HIV infection rates have been highest in the developing world, a new type of discrimination has appeared. Citizens of wealthy nations have closed their eyes to the growing pandemic because they imagine it as something happening far away to people so destitute and 'backward' that their lives are beyond hope in any case."

"Such morally untenable and factually deficient ways of thinking must be brought to the surface and eradicated," Zuniga concluded. "It is at the very intersection of these cultural and social prejudices that we must plant our feet and commit to ensuring the dignity of every human life, lest we be complicit in bringing about the worst loss of human life the planet has ever seen."

World AIDS Day has been commemorated every December 1st since 1996. This year's theme, chosen by the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is "Live and Let Live," an imperative to act with compassion and empathy in our global response to AIDS. More though, it is a call to education and to understanding the many social, political, and economic factors that underlie the majority of this world's HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths.

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