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World AIDS Day Was on December 1, 2009 -- Did You Notice?

By Gary Bell

December 11, 2009

Each year, despite the ever growing AIDS epidemic, it seems that media coverage of World AIDS Day steadily decreases. Started on December 1, 1988, the objective of World AIDS Day has been to increase awareness about the AIDS epidemic, raise money and to help to dispel the myths, sterotypes and prejudices that continue to abound. The theme for this year's World AIDS Day theme was 'Universal Access and Human Rights'.

According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.4 million people living with HIV, including 2.1 million children. In 2008, 2.7 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 2 million people died from AIDS. Approximately one-half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.2.

2008 also achieved another somber milestone: HIV/AIDS is now the leading cause for women internationally. Maybe its just me, but as HIV/AIDS becomes younger, darker and impacts more women, is there any coincidence that it falls further off of our radar screen.

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Transition to Hope

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Transition to Hope

This year marks Bell's 14th as the executive director of the Philadelphia-based BEBASHI (Blacks Educating Blacks About Sexual Health), founded in 1985 as the nation's first AIDS organization serving African Americans with HIV. Bell has been widely praised, not only for increasing funding and accountability at a time when HIV donations have plummeted, but also for launching such innovative programs as a women's initiative, prison-discharge planning, and, most recently, a diabetes intervention.

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