Tomorrow, December 1 is World AIDS Day. The event began in 1988 and is intended to increase awareness of the disease, improve education and raise money. The theme for this year's World AIDS Day is "Universal Access and Human Rights." Health officials and activists says the event is important to remind people that HIV has not gone away and there's still much to be done.
The United Nations estimates that there are now 33.3 million people living with AIDS around the world, including 2.5 million children. While the infection rate has gone down, during 2009 an estimated 2.6 million people became newly infected and an estimated 1.8 million died from AIDS.
The Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (PATF) is marking not only World AIDS Day but also has event planned throughout the week to call attention to the disease. PATF began in 1985 with only 2 people but had evolved into an organization that provides many programs for awareness to prevent the spread of the disease and resources for those who have been diagnosed with AIDS.
PATF spokeswoman Susan Orr says they conduct nationally recognized prevention program that she compares to a "Tupperware" party...a social setting where women and their friends are educated about AIDS in a comfortable environment.
Orr says the organization is holding a special luncheon tomorrow to commemorate 25 years of service and to re-dedicate themselves to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The special guest speaker is Marty St. Clair the researcher who discovered the effect of the drug AZT on HIV.