"World AIDS Day Dec. 1

This Friday marks the 18th annual World AIDS Day, observed Dec. 1 each year, dedicated to raising awareness of the global AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.

Despite recent, improved access to antiretroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 3.1 million (between 2.8 and 3.6 million) lives in 2005, of which more than half a million (570,000) were children.

The theme for World AIDS Day 2006 is accountability. Local and national campaigns are encouraged to develop campaigns and activities that are meaningful in their own contexts under the overall theme of accountability and ideally using the slogan “Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise.”

Calls for accountability have consistently risen in civil society campaigning in 2006 through the United Nations review of the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, the Political Declaration accepted by the U.N. General Assembly on June 2 (see www.ungasshiv.org) and commitments first made by the G8 leaders in 2005 to universal access to treatment by 2010.

Accountability is all the more critical as governments should now be in the process of setting national targets that are due at the end of 2006 as called for in the June Political Declaration. These targets will define the global response to HIV and AIDS over the next several years. However, around the world there is little clarity about how this process is moving forward. Civil society organizations, which would be enthusiastic and committed partners in setting targets and implementing efforts where appropriate, have so far not been included in national target setting processes.

The World AIDS Campaign and its partners call on all governmental leaders to be accountable for the promises they have made, to set the targets necessary to reach universal access to care, treatment and support, and to make all the necessary resources available in order to overcome the AIDS pandemic.

The concept of a World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programs for AIDS Prevention. Since then, governments, international organizations and charities around the world have taken it up.

From 1988 to 2004, the World AIDS Day was organized by UNAIDS, which, after consultation with other organizations, chose a theme. In 2005, UNAIDS handed over responsibility for World AIDS Day to the World AIDS Campaign (WAC), an independent organization.

Locally, the Marion County Health Department and the Indiana Urban League host the sixth annual World AIDS Day reception to be held at the Indianapolis Urban League, 777 Indiana Ave., from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The event is a benefit for the Community of Love, an organization whose mission is to provide transitional housing, prevention education and spiritual support to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The evening will include a memorial tribute, guest speakers, community awards and a silent auction.


Indiana AIDS Fund honors brave hearts

The Indiana AIDS Fund announced that Indianapolis first lady Amy Minick Peterson will receive the Advocate Extraordinaire award at its third Brave Heart Awards ceremony on Wednesday, Dec. 6. The Fund also will honor Indianapolis-based Efroymson Fund and Radio One.


Brave Heart Awards are presented for contributions of resources, time and funding in the fight against HIV and AIDS through partnership with the Indiana AIDS Fund and the more than 60 agencies it serves.

“We are particularly pleased to recognize the partnership the Indiana AIDS Fund has with these three Indianapolis leaders to remind Hoosiers that the fight against the disease is not yet over, especially in Marion County, which has half of the reported cases of HIV and AIDS,” said David Suess, president of the Indiana AIDS Fund board.

Howard County Health Department and the Tri-State Alliance in Evansville also will be recognized as Grantee Extraordinaires.

The Brave Heart Awards will be presented at a 5:30 p.m. ceremony at the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis, 429 E. Vermont St. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

Previous Brave Heart Awards recipients include Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Indiana, Judy O’Bannon, Target Corporation, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, the Joseph F. Miller Foundation, Wayne Zink and Margaret Sheridan-Bannister.

The Indiana AIDS Fund is a private, philanthropic fund-raising and grant-making organization dedicated to supporting HIV/AIDS prevention and services programs in Indiana. Since it was founded in 1994, the Indiana AIDS Fund has become the largest private funder of HIV/AIDS programs in Indiana as well as a recognized authority on HIV/AIDS issues. To date it has provided more than $3.2 million in grants to community-based organizations throughout the state for the delivery of HIV/AIDS prevention and care services.