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Friday, December 01, 2006

World Aids Day

December 1st is World Aids Day, a oppurtunity for people across the world to work together and fight this deadly disease.

AIDS doesn't care about your race, gender, sexual orientation, or social status...it's an equal oppurtunity killer. This country (and world) is still paying the price for the inaction (and ignorance) of the Regan administration and the view of many during that time that AIDS was a gay disease (may God have mercy on those who did that).

Although we all know better, due to our continued inaction, this disease is STILL killing people at an alarming rate with the hardest hit being children in Africa. Christy Hardin Smith at FDL pointed to a BBC article that does into detail about the suffering in Arfica.
n the countries hardest hit by AIDS economic growth has declined by half a percent every year between 1992 and 2004, the ILO report reveals. Worst affected is sub-Saharan Africa where the loss is higher - point seven percent. AIDS is killing the workforce. In 2005 three point four million people of working age died of the disease, this year that figure is expected to be four and a half million.

The effect is two fold. The economy becomes sluggish, growth drops, there's no energy for initiatives that will create new jobs. At the same time young people, many below working age lose their parents and are forced to work to survive. Often in dangerous and low paid jobs. For girls especially, that can mean the sex industry. Young people now account for half of all new HIV infections, what's more most young people with HIV don't even know they carry the virus.

She also pointed to an extermely painful article in the New York Times that details the people in Africa who are at the highest risk of catching the disease. It's very hard to get through but it's worth the read.
Thirty miles outside this down-at-the-heels seaside town, Justin Betombo tends his vanilla plants and cheers the local soccer team as if he had not a care in the world. And in fact, what was once his greatest worry has been almost magically lifted from his shoulders.

In the local prosecutor's office, a file filled with accusations that he had sodomized his 9-year-old niece has vanished.

Mr. Betombo was arrested in 2003 after the girl, Kenia, said he had savagely assaulted her. The police obtained his confession, which he later recanted, and a doctor’s certificate that Kenia had been sexually violated, rendering her incontinent and anorexic. Twice they sent the case file to the prosecutor.

There matters ended. Mr. Betombo attended one hearing in the prosecutor's office, but Kenia’s parents say they were not told about it. The records are nowhere to be found. And Mr. Betombo walked away a free man. Kenia's parents, distressed by what they saw as a travesty of justice, asked that her name be published, hoping that her case would set an example.

Among sub-Saharan Africa's children, such stories are disturbingly common. Even as this region races to adopt many of the developed world’s norms for children, including universal education and limits on child labor, one problem - child sexual abuse - remains stubbornly resistant to change.


Increasingly, African nations are openly acknowledging the problem, partly because AIDS has made children more likely to fall ill or die from sexual abuse. Campaigns against abuse are under way in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, Kenya, Sierra Leone and elsewhere.

The impact is apparent in Zimbabwe, where a child rights group estimates that at least 2,000 child rape victims have died of AIDS since 1998. "Literally for the first time in Zimbabwe’s history, child abuse is no longer a taboo subject," said James Elder, a Unicef spokesman.

That said, the response is minuscule compared with the extent of abuse, said Pamela Shifman, a child protection specialist at Unicef headquarters in New York. “We see huge numbers of girls affected," she said. "These crimes are still treated as the fault or the problem of the victim."

We can do so much to stop the spread of this disgusting disease...watch this video to find out one way you can help right now.

Learn more by clicking here. While you're at it, please make sure to join (RED) and help save a child's life.

Support World AIDS Day