Monday, December 1, 2008

World AIDS Day

Tonight, a couple of us participated in a Broken Bread Poverty meal for World AIDS Day, we fasted during the day and ate the corn/soy porridge blend dropped by the
UN during emergency situations. I was struck once again, by the scope of the global pandemic and by the generally tepid response from those of us in America. Granted, we generally tend to rely on celebrities and corporations for our information and advocacy. Sometimes these campaigns turn into enduring and effective organizations, see ONE, the campaign to make poverty history. Sometimes these campaigns are less than effective, see the RED campaign which seems to exist to make multi-national corporations look responsible. (Although, to be fair RED Wire music looks pretty cool)

Regardless of what the rich and famous do, it is time for those of us average Americans to do more and that's what's so encouraging about Acting on AIDS, a grassroots organization that began with college students in Seattle and eventually became an off shoot of World Vision. I had the opportunity to meet James Pedrick, from the national team for Acting on AIDS. Pedrick has recently relocated to Washington DC. When I met him last year at the Global Summit on AIDS, shortly before Mrs. Clinton's speech, I was very impressed not only with his grasp of the issues (to be expected for an expert in the field) but also with his thoughtful, philosophically sound approach to AIDS advocacy in post-modern youth culture. Engaging young adults will take more than a facebook page or a targeted campaign (see the RED product line) Also, kudos to World Vision, for having the flexibility to take in AOA without taking it over and saddling them with a bunch of fund raising goals.

Below is some text from the Advocacy Petition, which you should consider signing if you are a human being.

Considered the greatest humanitarian disaster of our time, the AIDS crisis is leaving a generation of children in jeopardy. In 2006 alone, AIDS killed an estimated 380,000 children under the age of 15. By 2010, there will be 15.7 million children orphaned by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and 20.2 million children orphaned by the disease globally. AIDS destabilizes families and entire societies, leaving children without the care and support necessary to survive, grow and thrive.

In order to continue exercising leadership on this issue, the United States must:

>> Fully fund the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief over the next five years by providing at least $7 billion in fiscal year 2009;

>> Commit to setting aside 10 percent of AIDS funding for orphans and vulnerable children;

>> Given the deadly synergy between HIV and AIDS and malaria, fulfill the commitment to providing $48 billion over the next five years HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

America has become a strong leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS. I, along with World Vision, ask that Congress continue to increase the U.S. contribution to the global AIDS fight and ensure that AIDS-affected children are not forgotten.


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