World Aids Day

"AIDS is our number one enemy. This enemy can be defeated. While the research for a cure continues, four principles -- love, support, acceptance and care for those affected -- can make us winners." - Nelson Mandela


The Red Ribbon is the international symbol of HIV and AIDS awareness. It is being worn by increasing numbers of people around the world to demonstrate their care and concern about HIV and AIDS - for those who are living with HIV, for those who are ill, for those who have died, and for those who care for those directly affected.

World AIDS Day was created as a way to educate the public about the facts of AIDS. It is a day to make a difference by sharing information about the signs, the risks, the treatment and the stories of those who have faced AIDS in their lives.

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, a virus known to cause AIDS, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and currently one of the most staggering health, social, and economic challenges in the world. An individual infected with HIV does not have AIDS until the virus has seriously damaged their immune system - at which point they become highly vulnerable to infections, many of which often lead to death.

The first diagnosed case of AIDS was in 1981 in the United States, but there are still many questions about where it came from and how it developed. We do know, however, that AIDS affects people from all over the world, crossing racial and economic barriers. In fact, HIV/AIDS has had such a profound global effect that the disease is now considered an epidemic, affecting such a disproportionately large number of individuals within the global population.

Amongst other things, World AIDS Day focuses on eradicating prejudice and fear surrounding the disease. Many myths exist about the transmission and infection of AIDS, and organizations worldwide are working to further educate the public about ways of dealing with the disease. It is of great importance that those affected by AIDS are empowered to speak out without fear of discrimination, and that those who are faced with AIDS can seek medical care without having to worry about public perception.

For instance, there might be people who are afraid to shake hands with someone who has AIDS; however, AIDS is not an airborne disease, meaning it can't be caught just by touching someone. AIDS is also not transmitted through sharing straws, kissing, coughing, or other forms of ordinary social interaction.

2006 World AIDS Day: 'Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise.'

Established by the World Health Organization (WHO), World AIDS Day was first observed on December 1, 1988. The intent was to bring worldwide focus to the deadly disease to help achieve social tolerance towards it, and to promote greater global awareness.

World AIDS Day 2006 continues with the decade-long motto: "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise." In addition to continuing to generate public awareness and education on the devastating global impact of HIV/AIDS, this year, the primary theme is "accountability,” that is, requesting that leaders and governments be held accountable, and keep the commitments and promises they have made to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The fight against this deadly disease is far from over, and now, more than ever, the world must unite in solidarity against this global pandemic.

"By all accounts we are dealing with the greatest health crisis in human history. By all measures, we have failed in our quest to contain and treat this scourge. Why have we failed? In the end, it boils down to one inescapable fact ¡ We have failed to translate our scientific progress into action where it is most needed, in the communities of the developing world. This is a global injustice which cannot be tolerated. It is a travesty of human rights." - Nelson Mandela




For three decades, Dr. Annalena Tonelli, 60, tirelessly and selflessly worked to fight tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in Somalia and Kenya. Sadly, on October 5, 2003, Dr. Tonelli was murdered outside her 300-bed hospital in Borama, Somaliland.


When Kofi Annan became the UN's Secretary-General, he committed himself to "ending poverty and inequality, improving education, reducing HIV/AIDS, safeguarding the environment and protecting people from deadly conflict and violence." Since then, Mr. Annan has been true to his word, putting the UN at the forefront of the global battle to eradicate HIV/AIDS in Africa and throughout the the world.


On November 2, 2002, former South African President Nelson Mandela announced that the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund was planning to join the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to help South Africans with HIV/AIDS and their families, and assist children orphaned by the disease. "Caring for people who are dying and helping the bereaved was something for which Princess Diana had passion and commitment," Mandela said.


Citing that access to AIDS-fighting drugs like AZT reach only one in 1,000 Africans, Nelson Mandela has urged the developed world to share the responsibility of bringing lifesaving drugs to the "millions of people who need it most" in the developing nations.


The United Nations estimates that about 45 million people worldwide are infected with the HIV virus. About 30 million of those infected live in the third world. More than 6 million of those people are in immediate need of AZT and other AIDS-fighting drugs. It is estimated that it will take $10 billion a year to bring treatment to half of those people. According to the National AIDS Trust, in 2003, alone, there were approximately 4.8 million newly reported HIV cases and 2.9 million reported AIDS deaths. Approximately 26 million people have died from AIDS, an especially striking figure considering the first diagnosed case of the disease was reported less than 25 years ago. By 2020, more than 70 million people could die from HIV/AIDS if the industrial world does not heed the call for help from developing nations.

As the death toll from AIDS recedes in America thanks both to education and awareness and to medications which help slow the progress of HIV into AIDS, Africa is reeling from a sky-rocketing epidemic of Biblical proportions that is decimating the continent. The facts are staggering. According to UNAIDS, in 2002 the African continent had 29.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS, 2.4 million people dying of it, and 3.5 million reported new cases. Though there are 13 million children orphaned by AIDS worldwide, 10 million of them are in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Zimbabwe and Botswana, one in four adults carries the virus. In Lesotho, 30 percent of all people in the country between the ages of 15 and 49 are believed to be HIV-positive. A child born in Zambia or Zimbabwe is more likely to die of AIDS than of anything else. Similar bleak statistics illustrate the severity of the HIV/AIDS scourge in Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Africa.

According to the UK's National AIDS Trust, the overwhelming majority of people with HIV, some 95 percent of the global total, live in the developing world, a figure that is set to grow even further as infection rates continue to rise in "countries where poverty, conflict, poor health systems and limited resources for prevention and care fuel the spread of the virus." At its current rate, AIDS is set to reverse 50 years of developmental gains in its most affected countries, bringing with it an unspeakable economic impact, in addition to the obvious personal and community devastation it bears. Thus, it is urgent that developed nations heed the call of those countries being ravaged by the disease, and through education, awareness, research, and medicine, help stop the spread of AIDS before it grows to even more unspeakable proportions.

Today, AIDS kills more people worldwide than any other infectious disease and is the fourth largest overall killer in Africa. In fact, it is said that 5 people die of AIDS every minute around the globe. That's 8000 lives lost each day.

The red ribbon is a symbol of awareness and support for those affected by AIDS. On December 1, show your solidarity in the fight against AIDS by pinning a red ribbon to your clothes.

Page created on 11/22/2006 3:52:49 PM

Last edited 7/10/2020 5:22:18 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

UNAIDS - is an umbrella group for five UN agencies, the World Bank and the World Health Organization, leading the global fight against HIV/AIDS.
AIDS in Africa - A Web site that includes the film, "5 Heroes of AIDS in Africa," the documentary that explores the life and work of five individuals living in southern Africa who have devoted themselves to bringing health to their people in the midst of this epidemic.
What's Going On - From the UN Works for Kids, an episode, presented by actor Danny Glover, on kids and HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean.
Voices of Youth: Fight HIV/AIDS - A Web site developed for UNICEF's 50th Anniversary celebration, Voices of Youth foments electronic discussions about important subjects -- like HIV/AIDS -- facing the youth of the 21st century.

Extra Info

Those who are fighting the war against AIDS are heroes. These are some of the stories that have been shared by visitors to the MY HERO web site.

Colman Masemola from Ga-Marishane, South Africa, wrote: My hero is Nkosi Johnson.A sun that set before its dawn, Nkosi Johnson is the greatest hero of South Africa. This intelligent, sweet, very brave and optimistic fighter battled a deadly HIV virus from conception till the age of 12. On June 1, 2001, he succumbed to HIV/AIDS related illnesses. He is my hero. He made the world aware of this deadly killer disease; his words still echo in the ears of this living world. Rest in peace, Nkosi. You are a true fighter, a world HERO.

Colleen Maloney from Cheektowaga, N.Y. - My hero is Destiny’s Child. A hero to me is someone you can look up to, someone who you trust and is a good role model. A hero helps people and saves lives. My hero is Destiny’s Child. This group is made up of very caring people who like to help when someone needs help. I listen to them on the radio and watch them on television. Destiny’s Child show that they are giving and caring because they give to charities such as the Survivor Foundation. They also gave $30,000 to the Aids Foundation Houston. Destiny’s Child also inspire people to keep on going and not to listen to other people too much. Destiny’s Child made a song called "Survivor" that influences me to keep on going and never give up. The whole song is about how people made fun of them and said that they’ll never make it in the music businesses. But they didn’t listen to the people and just kept on doing what they were doing. Beyonce Knowels, a singer in the group, once saved a life. She had gotten a letter from a fan that said she was going to kill herself. The fan’s phone number was on the back of the letter, so Beyonce called. She talked the girl out of killing herself, which she was planning on doing that night by taking pills. Whenever someone needs help, Destiny’s Child will be there to help. They good examples for young girls and inspire people to be strong.

Teresa Lords from Derry, N.H., wrote: My hero is Ryan White. He was so brave and strong, turning his negative into a positive by educating the world about AIDS. He made it a little easier for us to see that AIDS is not prejudice. It can infect children, adults, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons and daughters. It is not something that only the bad, dirty, poor or ignorant get. I will always remember him, his fight, his family and what he taught me as a teenager. I would have been honored to have met him. His story and life touched my heart.

Williams from Memphis, Tenn., wrote: My hero is Florence Ngobeni becaue she helped the environment by trying to teach people not to get AIDS or HIV. She cares about us.

Nicholas Ward from Brooklyn Park, Minn., wrote: My hero is Magic Johnson. Magic is a good man and a role model. He is a great basketball player. He thinks about other people more than himself. He is a survivor because he had AIDS for a long time and he is still surviving with it. Magic is also a hero. He talked to younger children about his problem with AIDS and he told them to try not to get it.

Jay Walker from Springfield, Va., wrote: My hero is Ricky Ray. Ricky was a young eight-year-old boy who contracted HIV through FDA-protected blood products. His home was burned to the ground and the family was forced to move when his mother told the school of his HIV status. Thousands of hemophilia families have suffered and Congressman Goss from Florida offered a congressional bill named after Ricky to offer restitution for the families. My high school students have spent the past five years trying to pass the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Act and they were successful after fighting Congress. This story of Ricky and my students takes many turns: a noted senator told them to never come back to his office, Gingrich and Kennedy came out to support my students, eight rallies were held on the U.S. Capitol steps. Ricky and 10,000 other innocent Americans have died of AIDS. His life story is one of struggle to gain understanding of AIDS and young people.

Lindsay from Holton, Kan., wrote: My hero is Ryan White. Ryan White was a boy with AIDS and I think that it was great how he went through life and lived it the best he could.

Cheryle Janasiak from Milwaukee, Wis., wrote: My hero is Marty Stein. I wanted to write this letter about my hero because I want to test this out before I ask my students to try this activity. I do have a personal hero in my life, and I’ll tell you about him.

His name is Marty Stein. I met him when I took a job caring for an AIDS patient. The patient was his brother. I took care of his brother until he died. Very shortly after Marty’s brother died, I decided to get a divorce. I had no job, was partially educated and had two children to care for. Marty was concerned about my well being.

It was a very difficult and emotional time in my life. Marty was there every step of the way. He felt like my guardian angel. When life was overwhelming, and I was on the verge of tears, the phone would ring. It seemed that Marty just knew the right times to call. He always made everything seem better.

The kids’ father refused to help support them, thinking it would force me to come back. When they needed clothes, Marty bought them. When their beds broke, Marty got new beds. When their mom was breaking (!), he fixed that, too. He always said, "Everything will be fine. No...Great! I PROMISE!"

He was right. After helping with everything in my life, including college tuition to finish my degree in education, everything is fine. No...GREAT! My life is where I want it to be. The kids are doing very well. I’m very happy. I couldn’t have done it without Marty.

Andrew wrote: My hero is my uncle. My hero is my uncle because he is always there for me. He can always make me smile. I respect him a lot. He is going through a lot of stuff. He battles a really bad sickness. He goes in and out of the hospital. The sickness that he has is called AIDS. He takes so much medication every day just to stay to live another day. But I look up to him. And that is who my hero is.

Sara Kos from Brooklyn Park, Minn., wrote: My hero is Cheryl Quinn. Who’s my hero? Well, I don’t like to pick just one person--I hate people who play favorites. And I really don’t like doing papers like this for school, but I guess I don’t have a lot of a choice, so here I am. Anyway, I’m going to tell you about my Aunt Cheryl, who I admire a lot.

My aunt works as a medical researcher. She has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and her current project involves a possible cure for the AIDS virus. I admire my aunt’s work a lot; I think it’s really a noble cause. I like to be able to tell people that my aunt is working on a cure for AIDS. I also admire her for being so smart. I mean, I don’t think I know anyone else who can say that their aunt has a Ph.D.

I don’t just admire my aunt because she’s a genius, or because she works for an important cause. I admire her because she’s very nice and fun to talk to. I don’t get to see my aunt much because she currently lives in Michigan, where she lives with my Uncle Bob, (everybody’s gotta have an Uncle Bob) who’s a professor at a local college. Before that, there was a time when she lived in England, and when I was very young, she lived in New Zealand. (Or was it Hawaii? I was only 2 or 3, so I truly don’t remember that well.) When I do get to see my aunt, it’s at Christmas when she comes to visit. She’s always a lot of fun to talk to, because she’s my youngest aunt. She remembers what it was like for her when she was my age. She always has really cool presents for all of her nieces and nephews, like the dream journal I got one year.

My Aunt Cheryl is kind of my role model. She works in a field that is definitely non-traditional for women. She sets really high standards for me to try to live up to. She did things differently than everyone else when she was young, and I admire her for that. She has a sense if humor just like me, so we get along really well. Last Christmas when she came to visit, we spent an entire hour and a half telling our favorite jokes. It was a lot of fun.

My aunt is truly a unique person who I admire a lot for her work. And she has a lot of things in common with me. That’s why my Aunt Cheryl is my hero.

Rachel Keith from Joplin, Mo., wote: My hero is: Gabriel Hutton. I held the tiny, blue-speckled eggshells in my hand. I slowly turned them over and over, careful not to crush them. They were all that remains of the strongest person I have ever known. Then at that moment, the wind blew from the open window and blew the Hushpuppy shoebox that was their home to the floor. I bent to pick them up, and across several of the surfaces were tiny cracks blemishing their exteriors. My hero had a weak and easily crushed demeanor, just like the bird eggs he collected. But on the inside, he was the strongest person I have ever known.

To me, a hero does not have to save anyone’s life, or do something the world will always remember. A hero could simply be someone who is a survivor, and that person’s courage makes them noble. Sometimes in life, things change in a split second; things that are simple are made into something so large and complicated that you cannot fathom how serious the situation is. My younger brother Gabriel Hutton Keith died of the AIDS virus almost four years ago due to one split second.

I do not think you can truly appreciate life without having hardships. But sometimes, bad things happen to the wrong people. My mother, father, Gabriel and I were driving in the car when we were hit from the side by a large truck. Everyone was pretty much okay except for Gabe, who had to have a cast on his leg. He also had a large gash on his forehead; he lost a lot of blood and was given a blood transfusion. The was one year before hospitals started really enforcing HIV testing on blood donations. Because of someone else’s mistake, my brother is dead.

I am not going to go into great detail about my brothers illness. This is mainly because I do not think anyone except for someone who has witnessed a death like this can truly understand. My brother was so small and fragile on the outside, but on the inside, he was solid steel. Having an illness like AIDS in the early 1990s was difficult for an adult, but even harder for a child who does not understand why people were so scared of him. Gabe was "asked" to leave public schools, his friends no longer were allowed to play at our house, and basically he was just treated like someone who was a threat to society. But what society did not realize was that Gabe was anything but a threat; he was just a little boy.

Gabe truly is my hero. He was so brave even though he knew his time was ending. He was not afraid of dying, but he was afraid of monsters he thought were under his bed. He would look people right in the eye and only see their kindness, not their meanness as they made fun of him. The little things he did made me realize that the world is not really as bad as everyone thinks. If a nine-year-old boy can forgive someone for his illness, then surely I can too. My hero looked as fragile as eggshells to everyone else, but I knew and still know how strong he was. He is gone now, but I will always remember his strength. He knew the real meaning of life is just to live, and it is as simple as that. Nothing more, nothing less. He knew that everyone has meanness in them, but he also knew that they have goodness also, and that alone let him forgive. I am influenced every day by Gabe. He is the perfect example of a true hero.

Doreen Van Lee from Chgo, Ill., wrote: My hero is: Rae Lewis-Thornton. Rae Lewis-Thornton is my hero because she refuses to let AIDS define who she is. Lewis-Thornton told the world of her HIV status several years ago, and she continues to educate people today.

Tell the world about your hero.


Jeanne wrote: My heroes are those who help children orphaned by AIDS.

In the next 18 months, there will be 13 million children orphaned by the AIDS virus in Africa. In a world full of wonderful inventions and technology, a world where information is available so quickly to so many people, it is amazing that we can idly watch a continent like Africa and its children suffer from the effects of AIDS. If all of us, in our schools, churches, temples, and places of work REFUSE to abandon these children, if we will take measures to see that these orphans have their basic needs taken care of while a search for the cure continues, then we can know that we have the power to effect powerful change in the world. We can all be heroes! Looking for a place to send your support? The Global Alliance For Africa Aids Orphan Program

Emmy D. wrote: My hero is Ryan White. Ryan White was born on Dec. 6, 1971. He was immediately diagnosed as a severe hemophiliac. When Ryan was 11, a new disease, AIDS, was discovered. It became known that hemophiliacs could contract AIDS from tainted blood. Unfortunately, after much illness, Ryan was diagnosed with AIDS when he turned 13. He fought the disease bravely and became known as an activist; speaking out against discrimination and educating people about AIDS. On April 8, 1990, Ryan White died. Ryan will always continue to be a role model of standing up for what is right.

Dylan Stern from Suffern, N.Y., wrote: My hero is Arthur Ashe. Arthur Ashe is my hero because he showed people that nothing should stop you from achieving your dream. He was ridiculed, put down and disregarded as a tennis player and as a person. Yet, he persevered, and came out on top. At the time of his tragic death from AIDS in 1993, he gave people reasons to hope and believe in themselves and their dreams.

Fallon Brown from Brunswick, Geo., wrote: My hero is John McKay. There are many ideal people in this world, but the person I admired the most is my uncle, John MckKay. He was a moral, intellectual, young man. It’s funny how he use to say, "You really don’t now how much you love a person until they’re gone." Now that he is gone, I miss him deeply. My uncle died from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, better known as AIDS. John McKay was an intelligent doctor. He contracted AIDS by trying to help a person with this disease. Three doctors, other than John, had their life taken because they wanted to help their patient. John McKay was hospitalized about four years ago. All three of the doctors that John McKay worked with died two years after contact with this virus. My mother would not let me see my uncle because it would have been painfully tragic. A week or so before he was hospitalized I asked him to explain a name of a book. I cheerfully asked him, "Can you explain to me what supernatural means?" He responded saying, "It means something that nature can’t explain. Something like a phenomenon." Then I asked, "What was a phenomenon?" He chuckled in reply, "A remarkable person or thing, but I’ll tell you more when I come back." Even though John said he would be back, I never saw him again. My love and sympathy went out to him because when John was sick, he never burdened anyone. I couldn’t even tell that he was ill. I honor John McKay for his strong will to help others, even though his life was at risk. I never considered my uncle to be pompous. Instead, he glistened with his genial personality. John McKay is a very special man.

Jimmy from Fargo, N.D., wrote: My hero is Princess Diana because of her work with AIDS victims and because of her work with the landmine issue.

Luciano Gentile from Santa Fe, Argentina, wrote: My hero is Elizabeth Glaser for her fight against AIDS and the defense of Ari and Jake.

Sara Wolfe from Rozet, Wyo., wrote: My hero is Princess Diana. I believe all the things that she did for the charities were definitely heroic. She helped people with AIDS and people who lost limbs to landmines. She used her popularity for a good cause. She was the princess of the people. I know that she is greatly missed.

Neal Webb from Batesville, Ind., wrote: My hero is Magic Johnson. He is my hero because, even though he has the AIDS virus, he is not letting that stop him. He is warning people about it and is trying to spend the rest of his time with his family and that is what he needs to do.

Melissa Bertwistle from Brisbane, Queensland, in Australia wrote: My hero is Freddie Murcury. Freddy Murcury is my hero because I admire the songs he wrote and because of the way he lived his life to the end. He died from AIDS, a tragic virus, and I respect the way he never gave up.

Rob Wilson from Studio City, Calif., wrote: My hero is Dr. Eugene Rogolsky. My doctor, who always makes me feel a little embarrassed for complaining about a cold or the flu, is my hero. He is a compassionate and tireless man who sees hundreds of AIDS patients and always manages to keep a strong, warm spirit, day in and day out. He represents many other doctors, nurses, caregivers. They are ALL my heroes.

Cortney Garland from Ankeny, Iowa, wrote: My hero is Jonathan Larson. Jonathan Larson is my idea of a real hero. Up to the day of his death, Jonathan had an impossible dream. His dream was to not only educate people about the deadly virus AIDS, but also to bring some pizzazz into the business of Broadway. Jonathan spent countless hours devouring information about S&M dancers, transvestites and anarchists, only to put his words into action. He created a now-famous Broadway play, "RENT." " I am the kind of person that, when I write my own work, I have something I need to say," said Jonathan. " It surprises me that in musicals, even plays today, sometimes I don’t see what the ompetus was, other than thinking it was a good, smart idea or it could make them some money or something." You see, Jonathan wasn’t just writing a Broadway play; he was putting his heart and soul into it.

Heather from Santa Monica, Calif., wrote: My hero is Allan Jonas . My hero is my grandfather, Allan K. Jonas. He is actually my step-grandfather. He was once the chairman of the board of the Cancer Society. He is currently working as a fundraising director. Between all of his fundraising and working, he manages to be a terrific grandfather. He is willing to talk to me, tell me things and be all around sweet to me and my family. I call my grandfather "Baba" because that is what my sister called him when she was a baby. Baba is very successful at what he does. He mostly calls people and asks them to donate to the society. He has regular donors that often come into his office (a place I call the Treehouse) and give him presents sometimes. I have met a few of them. They are sometimes people whose relatives have died of cancer. Baba says that cancer is a leading cause of death among Americans and he would like nothing more than to be a part of finding the cure for it. That just shows you how kind and compassionate my grandfather is. I love my hero very, very much. I am very curious to learn more about cancer, AIDS and other fatal diseases. If I learned one thing from Baba, I learned to keep a smile on my face. For more information on the AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY, visit their website at American Cancer Society.

Mallory Lind from Yucaipa, Calif., wrote: My hero is Nathaniel Dunigan. He is running an orphanage for HIV-infected children in Uganda, Africa.

Lindsay from Holton, Kan., wrote: My hero is Ryan White. Ryan White was a boy with AIDS and I think that it was great how he went through life and lived it the best he could.

Mary Conley from Los Angeles, Calif., wrote: My hero is Dr. Robert Koch. Dr. Robert Koch is my hero because he was the first to discover the tuberculosis bacterium. On March 24, 1882, when he was just a young physician, he lectured before many senior doctors at the Physiological Society of Berlin. Koch announced that he had found a microbe that was the cause of "White Death," a disease responsible for one-seventh of all deaths in Europe in the late part of the 1800s. Not everyone believed him, but Dr. Koch persisted with his research and he was right. The microbe is now called Mycobacterium. Despite the courageous efforts of Dr. Koch and his successors, TB has not yet been eliminated and is especially prevalent today in poor and developing countries. Tuberculosis is also linked with HIV. A damaged immune system makes a person 30 times more vulnerable to tuberculosis, and TB can accelerate HIV disease in a person who has both diseases.

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