Get involved on World AIDS Day

(NC)—Two years ago, about 33.3 million people around the world were living with HIV/AIDS, according to the World Health Organization. In Canada, an estimated 65,000 people were living with the disease in 2008 — yet more than one quarter of these people were unaware that they were infected.

This December 1 is World AIDS Day, which aims to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity with those who are living with the disease. World AIDS Day encourages progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in developing countries and around the world.

You can get involved with World AIDS Day. Consider the following activities:

• Volunteer at a support centre that helps individuals who are suffering from the effects of HIV/AIDS. You can be an encouragement to someone who may feel shunned from society.

• Donate to an organization that is helping people in developing countries who are living with HIV/AIDS like Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC). Through local partners and in collaboration with international donors, CCFC delivers a range of education, prevention, and treatment to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS and raise awareness to reduce stigma for those living with the disease.

• Wear a red ribbon to show your support and respect for people living with AIDS and for those who have lost their lives to the disease.

AIDS isn’t just a concern for younger people. In developed countries, infections are on the rise among older adults, warns a report from the World Health Organization entitled The Unexplored Story of HIV and Aging . Why? One reason is that older people are more likely to have unprotected sex, which puts them at greater risk for the AIDS virus and other sexually transmitted diseases. (See Zoomers at increased risk for AIDS for more information.)

How do things look now? According to numbers from the Canadian AIDS Society, adults over age 50 accounted for about 12 per cent of Canadians infected with HIV in 2008 (the latest year for which data is available). This number is expected to climb to 20 per cent in the next decade. Adults over age 40 accounted for 45 per cent of new cases of HIV in 2008. Each year, there are an estimated 2,300 – 4,500 new cases of HIV.

The good news is that thanks to new treatments over the years, people with HIV and AIDS are living longer than ever before. However, until there is a cure or a vaccine, education and awareness are crucial to help stem the spread of this life-altering disease.

For more information on HIV/AIDS, please visit:

The Canadian AIDS Society
The Public Health Agency of Canada

Additional sources: News Canada, World Health Organization