Sunday, December 2, 2007
The 20th annual World AIDS Day was December 1, 2007. The theme selected by the World AIDS Campaign is “Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise” as it will be through 2010. The day was marked by thousands of events around the world.
“It is now time for bold leadership at all levels in order to turn the tide of HIV,” said Felicita Hikuam, Global Programmes Manager, World AIDS Campaign. An estimated 33.2 million people around the world—one in every 200—are living with HIV, and approximately 6,800 people are infected with HIV and 5,700 people die of AIDS-related illnesses every day.
“The trend is encouraging but still for every person receiving treatment four others are newly infected,” said Nelson Mandela, speaking at a concert in Johannesburg, South Africa. “If we are to stop the Aids epidemic from expanding, we need to break the cycle of new HIV infections. All of us working together with government, communities and civil society can make the difference that is needed,” he continued.
As many as 50,000 people attended the concert in Johannesburg, South Africa, which was telecast around the world. It was organized by Nelson Mandela’s 46664 AIDS campaign and featured performances by artists such as Peter Gabriel, Ludacris, Razorlight, the Goo Goo Dolls and Annie Lennox.
“AIDS, as Madiba [Mandela] has said, is a human rights issue and should be treated as such in order to avoid this genocide that is affecting millions and millions of people around the world,” said Lennox in a speech. Lennox has previously been critical of the South African government’s position on suggesting some AIDS medications were toxic. “It is unacceptable that treatment has not been made available to those who need it most,” said Lennox.
The rock band Queen, which lost its lead singer Freddie Mercury to AIDS, released a new song entitled, Say It’s Not True, to coincide with World Aids Day. It has been made available as a free download from the band’s website. “By making the song available for free, we hope to help Nelson Mandela with his campaign to get across the message that no-one is safe from infection,” said Queen drummer Roger Taylor. “We have to be aware, we have to protect ourselves and those we love.”
In China, people distributed AIDS prevention brochures in the streets and promoted safe sex in cities like Beijing and Shanghai. In Changsha, official warning signs were put on hotel bedstands. The government announced on Friday an allocation of CNY860 million for AIDS prevention and control. According to official reports, there are estimated to be 700,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in China.
Also in China, the Miss World 2007 was in Sanya on World AIDS Day. The pageant presented a special tribute to the fight against AIDS, with a televised speech from former South African President Nelson Mandela, along with traditional dancers from South Africa who joined the contestants in a special song.
Friday, United States President George W. Bush urged the United States Congress to double the 2003 Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to US$30 billion over the next five years. “Above all, we rededicate ourselves to a great purpose: We will turn the tide against HIV/AIDS—once and for all,” he said.
“I’m pleased to announce that Laura and I will travel to sub-Sahara Africa early next year,” Bush said. Sub-Saharan Africa suffered nearly three-quarters of AIDS-related deaths during 2006 and is home to two-thirds of those living with HIV/AIDS.