(To those of you who've been reading blog after blog about World AIDS Day, blogcatalog.com's effort to unite bloggers from all walks of life to "share your thoughts and be part of the global solution to a global problem," and happened to stumble upon my little essay, I welcome you to my humble little blog. Feel free to read more about what I really write about when you get a chance. Thank you very much. jba)
Before my usual readers wonder, "He did this last month...why the heck does he want to talk about AIDS," rest assured, that while the goals of this blog is still talking about Topps baseball cards, we do have to realize that there is a lot more going on out there than we care to discuss. And like the post discussing the efforts of Refugees United last month (if you didn't read that, please take a look at it after you're done here), I will from time to time, take a break from discussing cards and the Hobby join thousands of bloggers worldwide and participate in an effort to bring attention to a very serious topic.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
Those four words together should get a lot of people's attention. And if you still do not have any idea why, you most likely know what this disease is commonly known as...AIDS.
We treat our Hobby as an escape sometimes, and rightfully so. But there are times that topics as volatile as this needs to be brought up. Maybe you, or someone you know, or a passing acquaintance has this disease or the symptoms of it. Maybe not. But know this: 25 million people in the world...THE ENTIRE PLANET!!!...has died from AIDS. And if that isn't enough of a punch in the stomach, over 40.3 million people WORLDWIDE are currently living with AIDS or HIV symptoms (read more about it here, I can't possibly be making this stuff up).
Now AIDS is the most serious stage of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection. What this does is slowly destroy our immune system, those special parts of your body that keep our body safe from germs and other bad microorganisms (think Osmosis Jones if you want the simplest description of what this is). Now because HIV's goal is to destroy the immune system, it makes it harder for the body to fight of infections. And when your immune system shuts down, even a common cold can be very dangerous.
I'm no expert, and I am very sure I'm not qualified to continue discussing how one gets it, how long it takes for symptoms to appear , or what the symptoms are (for all those answers, check here). What I can tell you is that there is currently no cure to stop it. But that doesn't mean that people are not trying to find ways to stop it. There are treatments called antiretroviral treatments that help slow down the disease, but these are not the end all cures.
We live in a much more informed age. Back in 1981, when the US first recognized AIDS as a disease, there was a lot of misinformation spread about how this disease is spread. Once somebody was discovered having this disease, this person was made an outcast. Nobody would go near him or her. Even the slightest touch and then you had it, many said. We know better now. And thank goodness for that. It took many public faces, from Freddie Mercury, to Liberace, from Ryan White to Magic Johnson, before people settled down and began to listen to facts about AIDS and HIV. What we learned was shocking.
I've already reported the numbers, but didn't mention that while it is a pandemic here in the US, the numbers are worse in other parts of the world. In Sub-Saharan Africa for example (countries south of the Sahara Desert, specifically South Africa, Nigeria, Botswana, et. al) 68% of those infected with the AIDS virus live here. About 78% of all AIDS related deaths happened here. And there are 11.4 million (that's right...million) "AIDS orphans" or children who have lost one or both parents to AIDS here. (source: Wikipedia, Sub Saharan Africa and AIDS)
The best way to combat this disease is education. Learn about it. There are many websites that discuss what AIDS and HIV is, how one gets it, what the symptoms are, and how to prevent it (I will put a list of sites at the end of the post). And that's why Bloggers Unite has asked that bloggers around bring attention to this disease.
Today (Monday, December 1, 2008) is World AIDS Day. This is the 20th Anniversary of the first back in 1988. The theme this year is Leadership. What does this mean? It means that many of the World Leaders now recognize the seriousness of this disease and have vowed to "do something about it." However, while many have done their somethings, there are those due to lack of financing or any other reasons who have not. This day is to be used to urge those leaders to get their programs in gear and help their homeland before it gets worse.
For more information about World AIDS Day, and all the organizations helping find a cure, please click the links below.
- http://www.worldaidscampaign.org/en/Key-events/World-AIDS-Day/World-AIDS-Day-2008 - World AIDS Campaign
- http://www.aids.gov/index.html - AIDS.gov - Access to US Government AIDS/HIV Information
- http://hiv.drugabuse.gov/ - Information on HIV/Drug Abuse from the National Institute on Drug Abuse
- http://www.unaids.org/en/ - The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000594.htm - Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS - Wikipedia.