Today, December 1 is World AIDS Day, a day when people around the world come together in a single, collective effort at eliminating HIV/AIDS. This year’s theme—’Universal Access and Human Rights’—highlights the need to protect human rights and attain universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
Although much of the AIDS crisis is concentrated in Africa – and frightening increases in South America and Eastern Europe – India has the largest number of AIDS orphans in the world. Through much of my travels and research while writing The Weight of Silence, I came across child after child, and family after family, devastated by AIDS. I have spent several days with a man and his family, who try to provide a home to AIDS orphans, as well as food, education and medical care to the surrounding villagers – places where the infection rates are the highest in the country, and which have been absolutely decimated by AIDS.
I have visited entire slum communities where what was chilling to my heart wasn’t what I found, but what was missing. Places where the entire middle generation is simply gone – these are slums in which virtually all the citizens are the very old taking care of children, and vice versa. The parents have been almost completely wiped out, leaving their children in the care of grandparents. Many of these children are also HIV-positive, continuing the completely unnecessary legacy of destruction that AIDS wreaks when expensive Western medicines are not readily available.
Please take a moment today to think of those who live in a world so far removed from what we know – indeed, what we can even imagine – and renew your commitment to fighting this disease. Join the Global Fund, and learn what you can do. We’re in this together.
You can also watch an Alicia Keys concert on YouTube. Alicia is the co-founder of Keep A Child Alive, a people’s movement that provides life-saving AIDS medicine and surrounding care to children and families in Africa and India. KCA also provides support to AIDS orphans left behind to keep the most vulnerable children out of harms way.
The show’s proceeds will go directly to Keep A Child Alive. Click here to watch the show.