30 years ago, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report outlining five cases of what was believed to be a rare form of pneumonia. In retrospect, this report would be the first official one to outline what is now recognized widely as the HIV epidemic. Unfortunately, what this CDC report could give little indication of was that these five cases foretold the most severe epidemic in modern history. What was equally unpredictable, however, was that the story of AIDS would be one not only of tragedy, but one of resilience, solidarity, and innovation.

“Over the past 30 years, AIDS has united the international community in a way that few other crises have. The disease galvanized grass-roots groups to fight for the human rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. AIDS generated new levels of solidarity between the north and south. And it has inspired medical innovation. Now the world has reached a crossroads…” (Ban-Ki Moon, 2011)

In 2011, the world has the greatest opportunity it’s had in three decades to create a world with zero new infections and zero discrimination. On May 12, 2011 the results of the HPTN052 trial indicated that if an HIV-positive person adheres to an effective antiretroviral therapy regimen, the risk of transmitting the virus to their uninfected sexual partner can be reduced by 96%. Similarly, we already know that adherence to antiretroviral therapy makes it possible for an HIV-positive person to live a long and productive life. It is for these reasons that new infections have dropped nearly 25% over the past decade. Unfortunately, these groundbreaking results have come at a time when international resources needed to sustain this progress have declined for the first time in a decade. It is paramount, therefore, for each of us to step up our game and make 2011 the year when we collectively turned the tide of the HIV epidemic.

How to get involved

Whether you are a student or senior it is never to late to learn more about HIV and get involved. For some, that could mean donating your time or money to an AIDS organization in your local community or abroad. For others, taking the time to learn more about HIV could make all the difference. Regardless of how you choose to get involved, there has never been a better time to do so.

Over the last 10 years, Art for AIDS International has spent much of its time working with students (over 10,000!) and their communities (in 6 different countries), hosting workshops focused on raising awareness about the impact of HIV, how its prevented, and how anyone can get creative in their response to it.  This year, as we continue to work hard at expanding our reach in schools and communities around the world, we are asking for your help.  Consider joining our growing team of volunteers, supporters, and sponsors, each of whom are committed to seeing a world with zero new infections.

If you would like to support Art for AIDS International by volunteering, planning a fundraising event, or bringing Art for AIDS to your school,  please send us a short message and we’d be happy to work with you.  You can also visit our gallery online or at our head-office in London Ontario to purchase prints!

If you would like to learn more about HIV consider following us on Facebook or Twitter; or read some of our previous posts on the HIV response:

You can also learn more by visiting the UNAIDS AIDSinfo page!