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Stop AIDS: Keep the promise
Health advice
WorldAidsDay 2
The theme for the 2007 and 2008 World AIDS Day is leadership. This theme will continue to be promoted with the campaigning slogan, “Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise.”
The 2006 theme was “accountability” and this year’s theme of “leadership” builds on that theme by highlighting the need for innovation, vision and perseverance in the face of the AIDS challenge.
The campaign calls on all sectors of society (families, communities, civil society organizations and governments) to take the initiative and provide leadership on AIDS.
The history of AIDS is relatively short. No one was aware of this deadly illness until the 1970s but since that time, the global AIDS epidemic has become one of the greatest threats to human health and development.
Statistics for the end of 2006 indicate that about 39.5 million people are currently living with HIV and each year around 3.8 million more people become infected with HIV and 4.3 million die of AIDS.
Although HIV and AIDS are found in all parts of the world, some areas are more afflicted than others. The worst affected region is sub-Saharan Africa, where in a few countries more than one in five adults is infected with HIV. The epidemic is spreading most rapidly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, where the rate of new infections increased by 70 percent between 2004 and 2006. Some startling facts about AIDS include:
More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981.
Africa has 12 million  AIDS orphans.
n At the end of 2006, women accounted for 48 percent of all adults living with HIV worldwide, and for 59 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.
n Young people (under 25 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide - around 6,000 become infected with HIV every day. Many of these are killed by AIDS before they are 35.
n About 95 percent of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing nations. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.
Obviously, prevention is  the key but so also is the need to change society’s attitude towards people with HIV    and AIDS.
The ‘fear of the unknown’ has always played a central role in dividing people, cultures and races. It greatly contributes to prejudice and the stigma that attaches to people living with an infectious or misunderstood disease like HIV/AIDS.  
Listed below are ways HIV can be contracted; they include;
Sex: Whatever your sexuality (it doesn’t matter) if you have vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV and you don’t use a condom, you can become infected with HIV. Oral sex without a condom also carries a risk of HIV and other infections.
Sharing needles: If you share needles or other drug injecting equipment that contains traces of HIV infected blood, you can become infected with HIV.
Mother to baby: If a pregnant woman has HIV, she can pass it on to her child in three ways: during pregnancy, during birth or through breastfeeding. But there are proven steps mothers can take to reduce the possibility of their unborn child contracting HIV.
Infected blood: You can become infected with HIV by receiving infected blood, blood products or donated organs as part of medical treatment. In the U.S. the chance of this happening is remote as all blood, blood products and donated organs are screened for HIV and infected materials destroyed.
Please wear a red ribbon on Dec. 1 to show your awareness of HIV/AIDS and as a symbol of respect for those who have died of AIDS, of concern for those living with it, and reminder to others of the constant need to keep up the fight against AIDS.
For more information  about HIV/AIDS or for free HIV testing, contact the health department.
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