Soon it is World AIDS Day. A day to draw awareness to a disease that is killing people at an alarming rate. Especially in Africa.
I have blogged before how on my first trip to Uganda in June, I was sitting with a group of people chatting. The Africans in our group asked us how many people in our families we had lost to AIDS. They were shocked when we said none. And that we didn't have any close family or friends infected with AIDS. They said "EVERYONE in Africa has lost someone they love to AIDS."
As I have spent time in Africa, the face of AIDS has changed from this far away disease, to a recognizable face. Having hugged, talked to, laughed with and shared moments with people with AIDS changes everything for me. This is not a disease that infects faceless, nameless people. It infects Mary in Uganda who struggles with the stigma of it, and is trying to stay healthy to raise her children and provide for them. It infects single mothers in Kenya like Lilian Atieno and Damaris Kiarie. It infects people with a name, a face, and who have dreams of life beyond this illness.
This World AIDS day take a moment to become aware on how AIDS is attacking Africa. And together, let's work to make AIDS history.
- The first case of HIV/AIDS in Africa was reported in 1982.
- Of the 33.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS across the world, 22.5 million are in Africa.
- More than 29.4% of people are said to be living with HIV/AIDS in South Africa, the highest number of any country in the world.
- In 2009, 1.8 million people died due to HIV/AIDS. 1.3 million lived in Africa.
- Women account for 59% of adults aged 15 and over said to be living with HIV/AIDS in Africa.
- South Africa has been hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic. One in five adults is HIV positive.
- South Africa also has one of the highest numbers of children under 15 living with HIV/AIDS in the world; estimates range from 180,000 to 280,000.
- 2.5 million people in Africa receive Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), medications for the treatment of infection by retroviruses, primarily HIV.
- An additional 8.7 million are in need of ART.
- There are 15 million AIDS orphans living around the world, 13 million of whom are in Africa.
- HIV is the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa.
Jean Kaggwa in Uganda who is HIV positive and learning to be healthy and productive. Jean has created many of the beautiful items we carry from Living Hope in Uganda. Thanks Jean!