World AIDS Day 2009 – Focus on Universal Access and Human Rights
November 24th, 2009
December 1st each year is World AIDS Day. It is a day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV. The global HIV/AIDS pandemic is a major health and development issue. AIDS also continues to present pastoral challenges to the Church. Missionary Oblates in South Africa are regularly working directly with and supporting people living with HIV/AIDS.
On December 1st, faith communities, national governments and advocacy groups from around the world will come together to remember that lives everywhere are touched by AIDS, but especially those actually living with HIV and AIDS. 33 million people globally are estimated to be HIV positive. Of these, 2.7 million people are newly infected. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most seriously affected region. Asia has the fastest growing AIDS epidemics which is threatening the region’s economic development boom.
The theme of World AIDS Day 2009-2010 is “Universal Access and Human Rights”. This theme strikes at the heart of what is perhaps the single largest challenge faced by people living with HIV/AIDS. The Universal Access and Human Rights theme encourages us to deepen our understanding, develop partnerships and challenge discriminatory laws, policies and practices that stand in the way of access for all to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
The focus on Universal Access is important because 2010 is a milestone by which time world leaders had committed through the Millennium Development Goals to ensuring universal access to HIV treatment, treatment care and support. The focus on Human Rights is important because people living with HIV are vulnerable to stigma and discrimination, illness, economic insecurity and reduced access to treatment and care.
The 2009 theme encourages us to reflect and work to promote human dignity and respect, as well as to protect the human rights of people living with or affected by HIV and those vulnerable to infection. You can work to empower others at home, in schools, places of worship and workplaces to act to ensure that human rights are protected and that global targets for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care are met.
Liturgical materials for World AIDS Day (1 December 2009) by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance are available as a PDF. It reflects that belief that all people are made in God’s image while focusing on the theme of HIV and human rights.
Help Protect the World’s Poorest Countries by supporting the Stop Vulture Funds Act. Vulture funds seize money from poor countries that could have been used to buy life saving medicines for those with HIV/AIDS.
Watch a Catholic Relief Service video on the Catholic Church and Global AIDS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE93x9_LJzY