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The Global AIDS Pandemic in 2010

Young people today have never known a world without AIDS. When it was first brought to public attention nearly 30 years ago, no one could have predicted that by 2010, more than 25 million people worldwide would have lost their lives to AIDS and another 33 million would be living with HIV.

Today nearly half of all new HIV infections occur among young people between the ages of 15 and 24. Ninety-seven percent of these new infections occur in low- and middle-income countries with limited access to HIV-prevention information and care.

World AIDS Day

December 1, 2010, marks World AIDS Day, an opportunity to raise awareness, fight stigma, remember those who have lost their lives or loved ones to AIDS, and celebrate the many advances in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment that have been made over the past 30 years. This year’s World AIDS Day theme is “Universal Access and Human Rights,” which calls attention to the fact that, despite our progress, many people—often those most vulnerable to HIV infection—lack access to the care and services they need. One Millennium Development Goal was to achieve universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it by 2010. Though the world has not yet reached this goal, it is achievable. World AIDS Day is a moment for researchers, policymakers, program managers, peer educators, and others working in the field of HIV/AIDS to recommit to achieving universal access to care and services and, by doing so, to protect the human rights of marginalized and vulnerable populations.

Ways to Commemorate World AIDS Day

  1. Remember those who lost their lives – Visit the AIDS Memorial Quilt
  2. Celebrate progress – Attend a World AIDS Day event
  3. Know your status – Get tested
  4. Show solidarity – Wear a  red ribbon
  5. Raise awareness – Tweet or post a Facebook status about World AIDS Day with messages like these:
  • Young people ages 15-24 account for 45 percent of new HIV infections around the world. Today is World AIDS Day. Do something about it—retweet this message!
  • Today is World AIDS Day. Demand comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly services! Stand up for youth sexual and reproductive health and rights!
  • Throughout the world, almost 3,500 youth ages 15 to 24 are infected with HIV each day. Today is World AIDS Day. What are you doing to stop the pandemic?
  • Almost one-quarter of people living with HIV are under the age of 25. Today is World AIDS Day. Retweet and raise awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on young people.
  • Young women comprise 57 percent of all young people living with HIV globally. Today is World AIDS Day. Do something about it—retweet this message!

Joy Cunningham is a Senior Technical Officer at FHI where she provides oversight for the research utilization portfolio of youth reproductive and sexual health activities.

I was happy to spend early November in Denver, CO for the 2010 American Public Health Association meeting.  There, I was able to be able to “debut” the new IYWG Web site during a poster presentation on global interventions on adolescent reproductive health. Click here to view the session.

It was validating to meet and chat with fans of the IYWG resources and hear positive responses to our newly re-designed Web site. Web design can be a tedious process and the encouragement at APHA served to bolster my commitment to the outcome.

I was also pleased to officially launch our newest IYWG publication “Evidence-based Youth Peer Education Guidelines” at a panel session on adolescent sex education. To check out this session click here, or  view my presentation.

A special thanks to the moderator, Claire Brindis, for facilitating a lively discussion on future directions for sex education. I was most impressed by the support for our new resource— many people eagerly took the copies I brought and asked how to place an order.

We are excited to continue the launch of the guidelines over the next month. Stay tuned for an “ask the experts” on-line discussion with peer educators from Y-PEER, our partnering organization in the production of the guidelines. And, check back in with our blog for guest blogging by peer educators around the world as they share experiences (and pictures!) of the guidelines in action.  Click here to view the guidelines. To order your copy, please email:

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This blog is brought to you by the Interagency Youth Working Group (IYWG) with financial assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The content is managed by FHI, which functions as the secretariat for the IYWG.
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