AIDS Is Everyone’s Business
World AIDS Day is commemorated on December 1. People and diverse communities come together to participate in activities and events to appreciate those who have battled with the disease and celebrate progress in response to the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of the HIV infection.
According to recent data from UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, there has been some improvements in 2011 when compared to 2001. The 2011 figures show:
- 2.5 million new HIV infections, down from 3.2 million;
- 1.7 million deaths due to AIDS, a decrease from 1.9 million; and
- 34.0 million adults and children living with HIV, an increase from 29.4 million and reflective of both additional HIV infections and scale-up access to treatment, which reduces AIDS-related deaths.
In spite of incremental advancements, HIV/AIDS can still challenge a community’s welfare and economy plus provide occasions to support those impacted with respect and dignity.
Persons with HIV are real people—family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and classmates. Being HIV positive does not define a person and does not stop anyone from living a happy, healthy life. They attend college and earn a degree, excel in their career, relocate to a different city, discover a love relationship, have children, partake in a marathon and pursue any aspiration.
I remain inspired by FedEx team members who engage in community programs that confront HIV/AIDS with care, compassion and dialogue. They not only participate in raising funds for education, prevention and direct services but also help in reducing stigma about people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2012, FedEx was able to support, sponsor or donate in-kind services to:
- AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile bicycle ride in California that supports services in San Francisco and Los Angeles;
- Project Open Hand in San Francisco whose programs help meet the nutritional needs of seniors and people living with HIV/AIDS;
- Black Tie Dinner, which assists the efforts of North Texas organizations that combat HIV/AIDS and prejudice;
- Food & Friends in Washington, D.C. where meals and groceries are delivered to people who are acutely impacted by HIV/AIDS or another life-challenging illness;
- SMART Ride, a two-day 165 mile bike ride from Miami to Key West that helps sustain services offered by agencies in South Florida;
- Magic Johnson Foundation‘s Community Empowerment Centers in 16 U.S. cities where free HIV/AIDS awareness programs and testing have occurred; and
- AIDS Memorial Quilt by The NAMES Project Foundation, FedEx Custom Critical lead delivery of 48,000 panels that weighed 54 tons and measured 1.3 million square feet to Washington, D.C., in time for the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival and XIX International AIDS Conference.
There is no cure or vaccine for HIV, but through education, early detection, proper treatment, care and support, it can be managed to maintain health and help reduce the risk of transmission. The World Health Organization recommends that we know our HIV status. Hence, I encourage you to obtain the facts, get tested and be involved in an activity or event dedicated to HIV/AIDS awareness.