World AIDS Day: Getting To Zero

December 1 is World AIDS Day, and the NAACP is joining health advocates across the country in observing the annual event.

The World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988 to provide national AIDS programs, faith organizations, community organizations, and individuals with an opportunity to raise awareness and focus attention on the global AIDS epidemic. This year's theme is "Getting to Zero", with the focus on how supporters worldwide can join the fight to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic permanently.

The need to get to zero new cases worldwide is imminent - HIV/AIDS has taken nearly 30 million of lives since its initial discovery 30 years ago. Every 9.5 minutes, a new person is infected with HIV.

Yet in communities of color, where the virus is more prevalent, the rates are even higher - even though African Americans make up just 14 percent of the U.S. population, they account for almost half (44 percent) of all new HIV infections in the nation every year. AIDS is the leading cause of death among Black women ages 25-34 and the second leading cause of death in Black men ages 35-44 years. 1 in 32 Black women and 1 in 16 Black men will be infected with HIV in their lifetime.

The NAACP health department has taken many steps to help eliminate this disease in communities of color in 2011. In commemoration of the 30 years since HIV/AIDS was discovered, the health department launched "30 at 30", a series of thirty blogs and multimedia items aimed at raising the topic of HIV/AIDS and its disproportionate effect on people of color. Just last month, the department hosted its "Forgotten Epidemic" Summit, a convening of HIV/AIDS experts, advocates and community leaders from across the nation.

"We plan to take on this epidemic by empowering our sisters & stopping the stigmatization of our brothers," said Brock at the Summit. "You are who we've been waiting for. Courage will not skip this generation."

Additionally, and in conjuction with World AIDS Day, the NAACP has awarded seven microgrants to NAACP units to conduct HIV/AIDS awareness events in their local community or college campus. The units are:

  • Region 1- Vancouver (WA) NAACP
  • Region 2 – Boston NAACP
  • Region 3 – Fort Wayne/Allen County (IN) NAACP
  • Region 4 – Colorado Springs NAACP
  • Region 5 – Huntsville-Madison (AL)
  • Region 6 – Steven F. Austin University NAACP
  • Region 7 – Hampton University (Hampton, VA) NAACP

For more information on how the NAACP is fighting the battle to get to zero, please visit the Health section of our Advocacy and Issues section.