December 1, first declared World AIDS Day in 1995, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. A number of celebrities have lent their time and name to addressing the needs of the worldwide HIV community. Superstar Elton John began the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Since 1992, the organization has raised over over $125 millions to support educational programs targeted at HIV/AIDS prevention, the elimination of prejudice and discrimination against HIV/AIDS-affected individuals, and for programs that provide services to people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. U2’s Bono not only shows his fervent activism on behalf of debt relief for African nations, but also in his efforts to raise awareness about the uncontrolled spread of AIDS there. Singer Alicia Keys, after witnessing firsthand the ravages of HIV/AIDS in Africa, became an ardent supporter of the organization Keep a Child Alive. Tonight she is giving a concert at the Nokia Theater in NYC, which will be broadcast live on YouTube. Proceeds from the concert will go to Keep a Child Alive.
This year there is some good news on the HIV/AIDS front. According to a new study from UNAIDS:
* New HIV infections have been reduced by 17% over the past eight years.
* There are more people living with HIV than ever before but this is because people are living longer due to the beneficial effects of anti-retroviral therapy and population growth.
* The number of AIDS-related deaths has declined by over 10% over the past five years as more people gained access to life saving treatment.
* Anti-retroviral therapy has made a significant impact in preventing new infections in children, as more HIV- positive mothers gain access to treatment which prevents them from transmitting the virus to their children.
Dr Margaret Chan,Director General of WHO (World Health Organization) says:
“International and national investment in HIV treatment scale-up have yielded concrete and measurable results. We cannot let this momentum wane. Now is the time to redouble our efforts, and save many more lives.”
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