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World AIDS Day 2009
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Keeping the Light on HIV and Human Rights on World AIDS Day

An Interview With Eric Sawyer

By Bonnie Goldman

October 30, 2009

Light for Rights

Hi, I'm Eric Sawyer and I want to talk about some fun things that you can do for World AIDS Day this year. I'm working with UNAIDS, amfAR and Broadway Cares in New York to reinvigorate the Night Without Light campaign. That's a campaign that goes back a few years where lights were shut off to commemorate those who died of AIDS on landmark buildings around the world.

This year we're going to do a Light for Rights campaign, where we ask people to actually shut lights off on buildings for a period time, while they talk about how human rights violations are forcing people with HIV in the shadows. They're forced to live and, in many cases, die in isolation because of the fear, the stigma, the shame of living with HIV and the discrimination that people with HIV face.

We're then going to shine the lights back on landmark buildings to symbolize how it's time to shine the lights on the need for rights for people living with HIV. That's to go along with World AIDS Day's theme this year of HIV treatment access and human rights.

There are things that people can do individually as well. One of the things we've developed is a really cool icon that was developed by Kenneth Cole, the clothing manufacturer, who's the chair of the amFAR board of directors, one of our partners on this campaign. It's a stark light bulb with a red ribbon filament inside of the bulb, and it basically is illuminated and is shining the light on the need for HIV and human rights.

We're asking people to come to the Web site, take that image and use it as their Facebook page, or use it for posters to talk about how we need to shine the light on the need for human rights for people with HIV.

Unless we do something about stigma, discrimination and about laws that criminalize at-risk behaviors like sex between same sex people, drug use, sex work, we're going to continue to drive people most at risk for the epidemic underground and we don't want to do that. We want people to be in the light, to be able to access their human right to AIDS treatments and to a life without stigma and violence. Thanks a lot.

Want to participate in the Light for Rights campaign? Click here for some ideas.


This article was provided by The Body.


 

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