Blog Archives

A World of Changes: Week of 7/11 News Roundup

This week brought so many changes. To start, last weekend Southern Sudan declared its independence followed by being admitted into the UN as the 193rd member this week.

The world along with the UN supports the new member state as the nation’s flag waves outside the UN Headquarters in NYC.  Along with excitement for the potential of this new nation, comes concern for the challenges it will face as a new nation in the world.

With the welcoming of a new nation, this week was also faced with unfortunate attacks in another world’s nation. There was an attack in the city of Mumbai, India, killing 21 and injuring 141 people. The UN’s Security-General Ban Ki-moon stays concerned that these attacks go against our world strive towards goals towards global peace and global security.

The UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon continues to hope for positive progression in the world, in his support of Doha Documents for Peace in Darfur signed by the Sudanese Government and Liberation and Justice Movement. This agreement will work towards stopping the violence that 300,000 people have lost their lives to in the 8 years of violence.

As the world faces many challenges, good news came this week to cure diseases and save lives around the world specifically for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Medicines Patent Pool and Gilead Sciences participated in an agreement that would give people in developing countries the opportunity to have medicine to fight against the disease. Antiretroviral medicine has also been recognized this week as having the potential to save lives by acting as protection against the disease for those not exposed to it. This gives people in environments that the disease is a caution the opportunity to stay protected. With all of these great advances for HIV/AIDS, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also has agreed to donate $1 million dollars to support new ideas towards the fight against HIV/AIDS as well malaria. These new advances this week in the medical world give hope to the potential of reaching the MDG #6 as we continue to get closer and closer to the 2015 goal.

Stay involved with our world news as well hope for good change and progression in our global future.

-Cara

Young Professionals Honor AIDS Anniversary

At the UN AIDS Summit earlier this month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on global nations to stop the spread of AIDS by 2020:  “That is our goal-zero new infections, zero stigma and zero aids-related deaths,” he said at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York held June 8-10 in connection with the 30 year anniversary of AIDS.  While new goals were being set by global leaders, UNA-GB’s Young Professionals group gathered this past week at Tommy Doyle’s, a local bar in Cambridge, to discuss the AIDS challenges of today, present achievements and future goals, as well as ways they can get involved locally.

Discussion was varied and informal among the group of 26 individuals, who ranged from local and international students to working professionals. Students from Uganda shared their experience of witnessing their family members dying from the disease before the country started its fight on the government level.  They said they want to encourage other nations to learn from their mistakes and promote actions to reduce HIV infections and death total from AIDS.  The group expressed its concerns about the fact that the world’s funding for AIDS will be reduced by 2020. Members of the group highlighted the importance of funding for AIDS service organizations and drug treatment for HIV and AIDS.

There was also some discussion about the limited successes achieved over the past 30 years in the battle with AIDS: HIV treatment has been discovered, but it only reduced the death numbers, with the virus spreading so rapidly, rather than eradicating it completely. The infections rate has been reduced for more than 25 percent in South Africa, but still 7ooo people are being infected each day, according to the UN.  This global epidemic has an impact locally for the United States too – each year about 56,000 people becoming infected with HIV only in the U.S., according to the U.S. government statistics.  Recently HIV/AIDS became a surging epidemic in Washington, D.C., with about 3 percent of the city’s population infected with HIV or AIDS. This is the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the nation.

Members of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts joined the discussion, and offered perspective on ways to take local action.  The AIDS Action Committee, in collaboration with other organizations, was able to reduce HIV infections rates in Massachusetts by more than 59 percent over the last 10 years. The organization focuses on prevention and spread of the virus, and provides education about free resources available to people who have HIV and AIDS.  Tory Stephens, Development Officer of AIDS Action Committee, shared that the highest death rate is for African-American women in the southern region of the country because there is no funding provided for prevention, education and treatment. It is for this reason that AIDS Actions treats AIDS as a social injustice and poverty issue because people who die from AIDS don’t have access to health care. The organization wants to encourage more young people to be involved in their work and extended an invitation for those at the Young Professionals event to participate in one of their future events, Artcetera, which will be a fundraising benefit for AIDS Action Committee and will help to provide medication to people who cannot afford it.  This comes on the heels of their annual AIDS Walk in Boston, which was a great success earlier this month.  To learn more about the organization’s mission and get involved, click here.

UNA-GB’s Young Professionals group meets every other month for their On Tap series at local area bars to discuss current international issues and social events. If you want to learn about the Young Professionals group and join them for the future events and discussions, click here and sign up to get email event notices here.  Stay tuned for details coming about next month’s Taste Of event, focused on El Salvador!

-Muzhgan

World AIDS Day – spread the word to stop the spread of the disease!

The statistics are daunting: there are over thirty four million people living with HIV world wide, thirty million of which that live in developing countries, and over one thousand children are infected with HIV per day, with even more adult infections on the rise.

Today we commemorate World AIDS Day to raise HIV awareness and tackle the prejudice that it is associated with HIV/AIDS.   This year’s theme of Universal Access and human rights ties into that of the Sixteen Days of Activism and the International Human Rights Day. Recognizing the human rights aspect is a fundamental part of the process of changing the perception of HIV/AIDS and increasing the accessibility of treatment for people that are infected.  As Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon said in June, “Universal access means more than ensuring that those who need treatment or prevention services receive them. It implies an extra effort to reach those who are marginalized, criminalized, or disenfranchised.”

World AIDS Day is one of the most recognized international health days and remembers those that have passed from the disease, in addition to celebrating the tremendous strides that have been made in HIV/AIDS research.

The Zakim Bridge here in Boston will be one of several landmarks in the world that will be lit red this evening to recognize the global health community’s commitment to honor World AIDS Day.  There are over fifteen community events this year in Boston which have been compiled by the AIDS Action Committee that range from health screenings to films.

There is also a rally being held at the Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand from 7-9 pm tonight, hosted by the Jubilee Project. The rally will include speeches, a concert, and a candlelight vigil to remember the lives lost to the AIDS epidemic.

For those of you not in Boston, you can find out an event near you at http://www.takeanumber.org.

If you are unable to attend any of the events, you can change your Facebook profile picture to the one provided on the AIDS Action Committee fan page at www.facebook.com/AIDSActionCommittee.

Do what you can today, and every day, to help achieve Millennium Development Goal #6’s aim to eradicate HIV/AIDs!

-Alex.