Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day Blog-a-Thon

Our generation has never known a world without HIV and AIDS. The deadly disease can’t be cured and can be prevented. Yet in the United States and worldwide, young people may not always have the tools they need to protect themselves, including information about and access to health care, condoms and contraception.

Did You Know?

  • Worldwide, almost half of all new infections occur in young people under age 25.
  • In the United States, the rate of new infections among young men of color who have sex with men has almost doubled since 2001.
  • Of the 11.8 million HIV-infected youth worldwide, over seven million are female.
  • Less than one-third of young people worldwide know how to protect themselves from HIV.
Stigma and shame about sex lead to fear of honest conversations about the virus. And poverty, lack of education, sexual violence, stigma, and gender inequality all make young people more vulnerable to HIV infection. Read more about the roles racism, sexism, homophobia, and poverty all play in the HIV epidemic and how ignoring prisoners, sex workers and intravenous drug users only helps perpetuate the HIV epidemic.

After almost three decades researchers still have not found a cure for the virus. While the benefits of both abstinence and condoms are scientifically proven, scientists are still exploring an HIV vaccine, microbicides, and male circumcision as ways to prevent HIV.

Yet meanwhile, through abstinence-only programs politicians and far right activists continue to deny young people in the United States and overseas information about proven effective HIV prevention. In the United States, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs censor information about condoms and exclude GLBTQ youth. In developing countries, U.S. policies distort the proven-effective ABC approach to meet an ideological agenda.

We are committed to fighting this epidemic at all levels – by demanding resources from our governments; by working to change social stigma that creates barriers to prevention; by being responsible in our own personal behaviors; and by breaking the silence.

This year for World AIDS Day, Advocates for Youth, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and SIECUS have organized a petition campaign and blog-a-thon on the Amplify website.

From now through December 6th, you can sign the online petition asking President Obama to create an Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that provide the best and most comprehensive services and information to young people worldwide. Our country's HIV/AIDS policy must respect the inherent worth and dignity of those who receive our support by giving them the resources they need to lead whole and healthy lives.

Sign the petition, and check out the blog-a-thon today!

There are many ways that you can commemorate World AIDS Day, including learning more about HIV/AIDS issues in your area and around the world. Unitarian Universalists across the United States and Canada are powerful advocates and educators with the UU Global AIDS Coalition.

Find out what's happening in your own community for World AIDS Day here.

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