December 1st is World AIDS Day. I wrote this article for the Nov/Dec 2005 issue of Destiny - an 8-page youth-focused HIV/AIDS newsletter that I publish as part of my work with the Liberia Hope Fund. Even if you are no longer a young-un, read it and take heed :-)
Do you know what the Millennium Development Goals are? You should, because they were set so that you and your children might have a better life and a secure future. Imagine for a moment: Where would you like to see yourself in the next ten years?
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs, for short) are a set of goals designed to improve the standard of living of the world’s poorest people by the year 2015. Among the goals is one that pertains to HIV/AIDS: By 2015, we should have stopped and reversed the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The MDGs were adopted by world leaders in 2000. It is now 2005, and, according to a recent progress report, Liberia is probably not going to reach the HIV/AIDS goal. Well, 2015 is 10 years away. If we are not making good progress, let’s do everything we can to get on the track to success!
What do you need to do?
• Learn the facts about HIV/AIDS. Know the modes of transmission and the methods of prevention.
• Stop behavior that puts you at risk.
• Learn about testing issues, treatment, care, and what to do about stigma and discrimination.
• Send your children to school. Support education. A study by the Global Campaign for Education shows that by the time someone completes primary school, they have all the skills necessary to understand HIV prevention messages, and the confidence to make good decisions in their relationships and lives.
• Hold world governments (and your own!) to their promises regarding funding for HIV/AIDS research and care.
• Organize, collaborate, and work hard to save yourselves and to protect those who already have HIV/AIDS.
Finally, a special call to women and young people: This battle against HIV/AIDS is for you. More than two thirds of young people with HIV/AIDS are girls and women. Around half of people who get HIV are infected before the age of 25. How old are you now? How old will you be in 2015? Will you be free of HIV? If you are HIV positive will you have equal rights and adequate treatment? Your destiny is in your hands. The battle against HIV/AIDS is for you, and the campaign must be by you.
This is your call to action. Don’t just imagine a better future…create it.