I've lost friends to this awful epidemic, but more importantly, I've watched friends thrive despite being infected with HIV. Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day. So take 3 minutes to read these facts:
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2009 some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS .
Let me introduce you to my two favorite HIV/AIDS related organizations who'd be more than happy to accept your donations (hint hint):
PEP/LA: The Peer Education Program of Los Angeles, led by the amazing Wendy Arnold, puts teen and young adult volunteers into schools, group homes, institutions, drop-in shelters, rehabs, etc, to provide basic education on HIV transmission, prevention, and safe options. I volunteered for the organization throughout high school and slipped many condoms onto bananas during my time there. I'm still close to people I worked with there and have been forever changed by that experience. They are doing such important work.
HIVictorious.com is run by my extraordinary friend Bob Bowers. He's been living with HIV for over 26 years and uses every chance he can to reach out and spread his message of survival and prevention through education, hope, and compassion. His own message "compassion is our cure" says it all.
I can't wait until the day when AIDS is no longer a part of our lives.
Need a buzz?? Well, all day today, Starbucks will donate 5 cents for every handcrafted beverage you purchase. So, drink up, people.