Almost 30 years later, the pool of public knowledge about AIDS and HIV is almost as deep and unfathomable as those early fears were. The numbers remain staggering:
- 33.4 million people living with HIV worldwide
- 31.3 million adults
- 15.7 million women
- 2.1 million children under 15
In the face of such statistics, it can be easy to maintain that early helplessness or those same feelings of being powerless. With the pressures of life and the constant din of so many media sources telling us what we should care about, it can also be easy to forget that, despite the fact that it isn't in the news every day, AIDS kills almost 4 people every minute. (based on 2008 death rates) Feels immense, doesn't it? Unstoppable? I hope not.
Apparently I'm not the only person who believes that a lot of little actions can add up to great things and that we sometimes need an arbitrary marker as a reminder - it's beliefs like those that lead to days like today - World AIDS Day. Today we pay a little more attention to the breadth of this disease, the global implications of it, the cultural beliefs and behaviors which influence its spread, and the efforts underway to slow and stop it. We shine a light on the fact that this disease is still relevant and threatening, and even those of us who aren't vaccine researchers or powerful philanthropists can still do something to stop it. Here are just a few ways we can help in the course of this day:
- Have a latte - Starbucks will donate 5 cents per handcrafted drink sold in the US and Canada today (5p in the UK, not sure about other countries)
- Put on some lipstick - MAC sells a line of lipsticks and glosses called Viva Glam and not some percentage, but every cent of the retail price goes to the MAC Global AIDS Fund. The fund has raised $135 million to date to help women, men and children around the world. (And many of the shades are almost universally flattering, too.)
- Pick up your holiday greeting cards. MAC sells greeting cards designed by children and Hallmark carries a line of Product (RED) cards as well. If you're going to get cards anyway, why not get some that give back?
- Put some clothes on. Gap sells a great line of Product (RED) apparel for women and men. (They've sold products for kids in the past, but I don't see any on their website today.)
- Need to buy a Dell netbook or iPod as a holiday gift? Why not buy it in a snazzy red version?
- Always wondering "what's that song playing?" Then download the Shazam (RED) app for iPhone. The $2.99 app "listens" to whatever music is playing and identifies the song and artist and provides handy links that direct you to the iTunes store for preview and purchase, or to a Youtube video.
Or, go straight to the source and make a donation. Here are a couple of organizations that would be glad to take your money: