World AIDS Day on December 1 is an opportunity for people and organizations worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for those living with the disease and commemorate friends and loved ones who have lost the battle.
It is estimated that about 34 million people are living with HIV and every 18 seconds someone in the world dies of an AIDS related death. Despite progress in slowing the spread of the virus, many of those infected don’t even know they are carriers. The Red Cross is engaged in the global fight against this disease, working to reduce transmission and to support those living with it.
Doan Thi Khuyen was infected in 2003 by her husband and was unaware of his HIV positive status or his drug use. As a result, she was devastated when she found out that both she and her 4 month old son were infected.
But Doan decided not to be a victim of this disease and instead formed a support group for others who had been diagnosed and stigmatized. Now, with the support of the Red Cross, she is a peer counselor educating others about disease prevention and ensuring those suffering from the disease in her community have access to resources such as home health care.
Into the Light is an intimate look at the impact that Red Cross HIV awareness and counseling programs are having in Vietnam and Cambodia. HIV is becoming an ever increasing struggle for people in Asia and in many countries repressive laws fuel the transmission of HIV by denying drug users and others access to health and social services.
While many advances have been made in HIV treatment and laws protecting those diagnosed with the disease, stigma and discrimination still remain a reality for many people living with HIV. Last year, the American Red Cross reached 335,000 people across the world with increased access to health care, support groups, prevention education and stigma reduction programs.
World AIDS Day reminds the public and governments that HIV has not gone away, that there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.