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World Aids Day – One minute of silence

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Not too long ago, I overheard a conversation. Two people were chatting about Aids, and about the attention the disease receives from the media.”It seems they can’t talk about nothing else then HIV and Aids. I am getting sick and tired of it.”

The remarks made me sad, as South Africa is one of the countries most affected by the Aids pandemic. My opinion on the matter is quite simple: as long as people are still dying en masse, as long as  the infection rate is sky high, as long as the illness robs children from their parents, and as long as grandparents have to take care of their grandchildren because their own children have died and unless there is not yet a cure HIV/AIDSshould get all the attention it can possibly get.

Because the statistics do not leave anything to the imagination: According to a report by the United Nations, an estimated 33.2 million people were living with HIV in 2007. Half of them were women, 2,5 million were children. That same year was good for 2,5 million new infections and 2,1 million Aids related deaths.In other words, each day 6800 get infected and 5700 die of the disease.

Although Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicenter of the pandemic, the west is not spared by HIV/AIDS. In North America, for instance, 1,3 million people are living with the condition. Furthermore, 2007 was good for 46 000 new infections in this part of the world and 21 000 deaths.

One of the main conclusions of the report is that AIDS is  global and not a regional problem, and that everyone can get infected. Old news? Definitely, but that does not make the message less important. On the contrary.

So pay your respect tomorrow during World Aids Day, and have a minute of silence to those affected: to the people who died, are infected, or lost their loved ones as a result of HIV/AIDS. Because you know what? You could have been or could be a statistic too, whether it is a new infection, a new death or someone losing a loved one …