World Leaders, American Cities, Nations Recognize World AIDS Day
Following UNAIDS' announcement Wednesday that an estimated 40 million people worldwide are HIV-positive, world leaders, nations, cities and community groups recognized World AIDS Day on Saturday. With the theme "I Care ... Do You?" many of the day's events focused on youth, minorities and increasing the number of people who receive HIV tests. The following lists summarize speeches given by world leaders, politicians and scientists, events that took place around the world and newspaper articles appearing in response to the annual event.
Leaders, Scientists Respond to World AIDS Day
The following are summaries of World AIDS Day statements made by several political and health leaders:
- Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO director general: In a written statement to mark the annual event, Brundtland said, "The world is now ready to turn back the epidemic learning from those who have blazed a trail, scaling up best practice and confronting AIDS systematically" (BBC News, 12/1).
- President George Bush: In his World AIDS Day proclamation, Bush said, "We must develop and implement better ways to communicate to youth about abstinence and other effective measures that will help them to avoid the disease and to envision a future filled with possibility. We must also continue our efforts to develop a vaccine that will protect individuals from becoming infected with HIV/AIDS, and the United States will not weaken in its resolve to lead the world towards that goal. ... We resolve to stand together as a nation and with the world to fight AIDS ... to provide the resources necessary to combat HIV/AIDS ... [and] to ensure that those suffering with HIV/AIDS receive effective care and treatment, compassionate understanding, and encouraging hope" (White House release, 11/30).
- Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: In a written statement, Fauci said that NIAID will continue its role on the "global team" fighting AIDS, adding, "Our ultimate success will require a sustained effort involving people from all walks of life, a robust commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS by the governments of rich and poor countries and the resources and expertise of both the public and private sectors" (NIAID release, 12/1).
- Pascal Lamy, European trade commissioner: Speaking for the European Commission on Saturday, Lamy said that the commission "will do all in its power to make sure that safe, affordable drugs are available to all who need them in the struggle to combat HIV/AIDS and other killer diseases, especially in the world's poorer countries" (Agence France-Presse, 11/30).
- Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa: Mandela said at his third public appearance during World AIDS Day, "There is no difference whatsoever between somebody who is HIV-positive and myself. We should approach people who are HIV-positive. We must give them love and support and not marginalize them" (Cohen, AP/Deseret News, 12/2). Mandela continued, "Nothing threatens us more today than HIV/AIDS ... AIDS is a scourge threatening to undo all the gains we made in our generations of struggle. For those who are HIV-positive, we must ensure they get the proper treatment and drugs which are going to help them resist the pandemic" (Boye, Reuters, 12/1).
- Pope John Paul II: Speaking to a group of health care volunteers at the Vatican, the pope "encouraged" medical researchers to "keep up their efforts" to find a cure for HIV/AIDS and said, "Dear brothers and sisters sick with AIDS, don't feel alone! The pope is near you with love and supports you in your difficult path" (Associated Press, 12/1).
- Romano Prodi, European Union president: In a statement "confirm[ing] the E.U. executive body's commitment to the battle against AIDS," Prodi said, "We are going to increase our work and improve our results. We must not abandon those who are ill" (Agence France-Presse, 12/1).
- Tommy Thompson, HHS secretary: In a written World AIDS Day statement released on Friday, Thompson said that the "worst mistake we can make is to let our guard down." He added that there are "signs of hope" and "pledge[d]" that "HHS and this administration will not give up the fight." Thompson announced that Patricia Funderburk Ware had taken the position of executive director of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. He also announced the launch of a new NIH Web site, worldaidsday.nih.gov, that will provide HIV/AIDS information to the public and health care professionals (HHS release, 11/30).
Nations Use Innovative Techniques to Recognize Day
To commemorate World AIDS Day, countries around the world held a variety of events. In the Asia-Pacific region, some 50,000 balloons were released in 19 countries on Saturday, co-organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and local organizations in the region (Xinhua News Agency, 12/1). Additional international events are highlighted below:
- Bangladesh: On Saturday, the country issued a commemorative World AIDS Day stamp featuring the slogan "I Care ... Do You?" with pictures of a sick man on a hospital bed and a pregnant woman (Associated Press, 12/1).
- Cambodia: Government officials "trumpeted" the country's success in lowering HIV infection among pregnant women to 2.3% at the end of last year, down from 3.2% in 1997 (AP/Baltimore Sun, 12/2).
- India: The largest forum of prostitutes in Calcutta urged lawmakers to legalize their profession, saying it would "improve access to medical facilities and reduce the incidence of AIDS" (Reuters, 12/1).
- Ivory Coast: President Laurent Gbagbo "received thousands of demonstrators" in the country's capital Abidjan, and his wife "ceremonially" presented him with a condom to promote awareness in a country where nearly 7% of the population is HIV-positive (Agence France-Presse, 12/1).
- Portugal: Putting pharmacies frequented by drug addicts "in the front line of its campaign against AIDS," the country, maintaining the highest infection rate of any country in the European Union, wants "pharmacies that give addicts drug substitutes [to] also give medicines to HIV carriers" (Associated Press, 12/1).
- South Africa: In Pretoria, traditional healers denounced myths "which have taken hold" there, including one that having sex with a virgin will cure AIDS (Agence France-Presse, 12/1).
- Sudan: Bringing an "en[d] to years of silence" about AIDS, government officials launched a "big" AIDS awareness campaign. The AP/Baltimore Sun reports that the disease is "spreading fast in the war-ravaged African country" (AP/Baltimore Sun, 12/2).
- Venezuela: Volunteers in the country marked World AIDS Day by offering free blood screenings and "informing the population about the dangers of unprotected sex" (Associated Press, 12/1).
- Zimbabwe: Approximately 500 people attended a rally, during which officials "urged men to practice safe sex." In addition, drum majorettes marched through Harare, the country's capital, in an effort to raise AIDS awareness (AP/Baltimore Sun, 12/2).
Newspapers Highlight Local Events, Stories
Newspapers around the country published articles about local events, local and statewide statistics, or people who are fighting HIV/AIDS at the community level. The following list -- in alphabetical order by paper name -- summarizes some of the articles:
- Augusta Chronicle, "Counties See AIDS Cases Pass 1,000": Georgia's Chatham and Effingham counties recently surpassed 1,000 cases of AIDS since health workers began keeping track of the disease in 1984 (Landers, Morris News Service/Augusta Chronicle, 12/2).
- Baton Rouge Advocate, "AIDS Fundraiser Reaches Goal With Tongue-in-Cheek Arrests": Thirty people were arrested, tried and fined $500 each for "showing compassion," as part of a World AIDS Day event to raise money for the Baton Rouge Black Alcoholism Council-Metro Health Education office (Wold, Baton Rouge Advocate, 12/2).
- Bergen Record, "Sept. 11 Attack Derailed Toy Drive for AIDS Kids": Thousands of children may not receive Christmas gifts because the Children's Hope Foundation was displaced from its offices near the World Trade Center following the Sept. 11 attacks (Kugler, AP/Bergen Record, 12/2)
- Columbus Dispatch, "Reading of Names a Solemn Ceremony": About 50 people gathered in Columbus' Goodale Park to read the names of 1,000 central Ohioans who have died of AIDS-related illnesses (Ferenchik, Columbus Dispatch, 12/2).
- Contra Costa Times, "Disease's Progress Somberly Observed": Community leaders and county officials gathered at the first West Contra Costa Worlds AIDS Day Summit to "focus more attention on AIDS and HIV" (Morris, Contra Costa Times, 12/2).
- Denver Post, "AIDS Agency Gives Help on Multiple Fronts": The Post profiles the Colorado AIDS Project, which provides food, housing and financial assistance to people with HIV/AIDS (Libid, Denver Post, 12/2).
- Houston Chronicle, "Clinic: Better Awareness Needed": The Chronicle profiles the Donald R. Watkins Memorial Foundation, which provided free HIV testing as part of World AIDS Day (Teachey, Houston Chronicle, 12/1).
- Lexington Herald-Leader, "Vigil Remembers Those Lost to AIDS": Fifty people gathered in Lexington's Cheapside Park to honor friends and relatives who have died of AIDS-related complications (Stamper, Lexington Herald-Leader, 12/2).
- New York Times, "Original AIDS Quilt to Hang in Manhattan": To commemorate World AIDS Day and the 20th Anniversary of the disease in America, the New York City-based Gay Men's Health Crisis will hang the first section of the AIDS quilt in its lobby through Dec. 7 (Holland, New York Times, 12/1).
- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Soldier in War Against Disease Plaguing Africa is Studying Here": The Post-Gazette profiles Theresa Kaijage, founder of the Tanzanian grassroots organization Wamata, a Swahili acronym for "people in the fight against AIDS," who is currently studying for her doctorate in social work and master's in public health at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (Dyer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/1).
- Providence Journal, "Needle Exchange Credited With Reducing HIV in Drug Users": Although the data do not "yet meet the standards of scientific evidence," Paul Loberti, chief administrator of the Rhode Island Office of HIV & AIDS, "credits" the state's needle-exchange program for "strong indications that HIV transmission among intravenous drug users is declining" (Freyer, Providence Journal, 12/1).
- Raleigh News & Observer, "AIDS Vaccine Closer to Reality": The News & Observer examines "at least six, and maybe as many as eight" possible AIDS vaccines on the horizon at NIH's HIV Vaccine Trials Network site at Duke University (Avery, Raleigh News & Observer, 12/1).
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Elton John Co-sponsoring AIDS Ads for MTV, VH1": Cable TV networks MTV and VH1 announced Saturday a new series of public service announcements co-sponsored by the Elton John AIDS Foundation (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2).
- San Francisco Chronicle, "S.F. Shines a Light on World AIDS Day": During a World AIDS Day event at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park, many speakers said that AIDS "somehow manages not to be much of [a story] anymore," even though 8,879 San Franciscans are currently living with AIDS (Hubbell, San Francisco Chronicle, 12/2).
- AP/San Jose Mercury News, "Black Media Unite to Combat Growing Rate of AIDS Cases": Black Entertainment Television, the American Urban Radio Network and VIBE magazine announced Saturday the creation of the Black Media Task Force on AIDS, which will meet twice a year to address ways of "increasing AIDS awareness in a community where lack of AIDS education and the stigma of infection have helped spread" the disease (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 12/2).
- Tallahassee Democrat, "HIV Educators Urge Testing": Eighty people attended the first World AIDS Day Town Meeting in Tallahassee on Saturday, sponsored by the Minority AIDS Action Committee and Shisa, a Tallahassee-based not-for-profit organization that works to bring health care services to the black community (Burlew, Tallahassee Democrat, 12/2).
- Washington Post, "D.C. Clinic Reports Decline in AIDS Tests": Citing "emotional stress" due to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, "anthrax in the mail, economic woes and the potential for more terrorism" in Washington, D.C., the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the Capitol's largest HIV/AIDS service agency, reported a 27% decrease in the number of people seeking free HIV testing (Goldstein, Washington Post, 12/1).