President-elect Barack Obama promised to recommit U.S. efforts against the disease. Google put a link and a Red ribbon on their Web site. Starbucks partnered with (RED) for the holiday season. Bono is helping launch (RED)WIRE, a music-themed Web site. Candlelight vigils were held in commemoration of those who lost the war against AIDS.
And so the world (at least as I know it) celebrated the twentieth anniversary of World AIDS Day Monday.
It sounds very na’ve that this is the only world I (and perhaps, most Americans) see when it comes to AIDS. While there is still discrimination and a lack of awareness in this country, it is not completely ignored. Well-known organizations and people make a difference and encourage us to do the same.
While Obama, Google and Starbuck’s efforts are notable, something even more promising happened on the other side of the world and is more prominent than all the things I just listed.
In a Nov. 30 Associated Press article, China, along with the U.N. AIDS agency, pledged to fight AIDS discrimination by unveiling a large red ribbon, the symbol of the cause, at the Olympics Bird Nest Stadium in Beijing.
It might seem that we should be past discrimination and all of its negative effects, but it’s everywhere
despite the attempt we make to hide it. We have made efforts to change, but it still hinders the effort to save lives.
China, by fighting it, is moving in the right direction.
In the case of China, the country spent years denying the AIDS issue, according to the article. Fortunately, they have moved forward in recent years and offer anonymous testing, free medical treatment for the poor and now a ban on discrimination. What a good idea.
It is impossible to fight something while pretending it is not happening, so once again, China shows that this is the right direction. But to make this change, we have to go beyond the country and to the people that have the power to change discrimination.
In the article, U.N. AIDS country coordinator Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander said half of Chinese people would not share a meal with an infected person, let alone shake hands.
Prejudice of a people because of a health concern is truly saddening. Where is the humanity?
This lack thereof causes a ripple effect which hurts people and in this case, their health. The article goes on to say that this discrimination causes many Chinese people to go untested because of this.
This discrimination probably moves beyond nationality. It probably happens in this country, despite our show of support.
People, regardless of nationality, race or gender should not have to fear bigotry when it concerns personal health. It should not be about pride, but about personal well-being.
Is it so horrible to be HIV-positive or have AIDS? For health reasons, yes. But it has never been morally right to discriminate against people living with the disease.
The only way to cure the epidemic of discrimination is through
increased awareness and education not only for China, but for everyone. China is moving forward and that is wonderful for this cause. But the world, the United States included, still has a long way to go.
Yes, we do have well-known people and companies promoting the cause, but, as I said, people have the power to change discrimination. Going back to the example given by Schwartlander, what would we do? Would we share a meal or shake hands with a person infected with AIDS or who is HIV-positive?
I hope the answer is yes, because then, despite our show of support, we have not progressed any farther than China.
It is notable. But it is not enough.
Schossow is a sophomore print journalism major and Money/Health editor for The Spectator.