World AIDS Day 2008

For the last 20 years, I've shared my birthday with another special day. I wish I didn't have to. Not because I'm a selfish beast and want all the attention for myself. But because the event I share it with involves a killer, a deadly pandemic that claimed 2.1 million lives last year alone.

I'd gladly give up my celebration each year if someone could make AIDS disappear. Researchers and others in the medical community have come a long way since the syndrome's first official reported case June 5, 1981, in their fight to stop the death and work for a cure. But globally, an estimated 33.2 million people lived with HIV in 2007, including 2.5 million children. We cannot get complacent. We, as a human race, must continue to fight.

Check your local papers and community calendars today and this week to find an AIDS-Day event in your area to attend. I have been invited by a friend, who happens to be an infectious disease pharmacist specializing in HIV-AIDS, to attend a local AIDS Awareness pub crawl on Friday evening. Today, I'm wearing a red sweater as a symbol of remembrance. Many communities hold candlelight vigils for those we have lost. More than 25 million beloved human beings have died of AIDS. We have a world of mourning to do.

Check out the launch of this new Web site, a digital music magazine designed to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.

Also, stop by your local Starbucks from now through Jan. 2, 2009, order an exclusive Holiday beverage (Peppermint Mocha Twist, Gingersnap Latte, and Espresso Truffle) and Starbucks will donate 5 cents from each drink to the Global Fund (which fights AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria). I had the Gingersnap this a.m. DIVINE!

Started in 1988, World AIDS Day is not just about raising money, but also about increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done. -- www.avert.org

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