World AIDS Day 2013: The Workplace Conversation

“We ALL are living with AIDS…”

This sentiment shared by award winning actress Judith Light has always been my introduction to the topic of HIV/AIDS.  To many, it may seem that AIDS is a distant disease, impacting people very different than you and in places far, far away. Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS is still here.  We all are, in fact, living with this disease.

In the workplace, the conversation around diversity and inclusion extends to issues of health and wellness, including HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS prevention is one aspect of the workplace discussion while another, more personal aspect, extends to people you work with every day.  It’s likely that a friend or workplace colleague, even a family member, is infected with HIV and possibly living with AIDS.

Each year world AIDS organizations focus on a key message in the fight against HIV and AIDS.  This year’s theme World AIDS Day 2013: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation is driven by a disturbing increase in HIV infections among the emerging ‘core’ of our workforce:  young people under the age of  24.  Unlike other generations, they only know HIV as a chronic, manageable illness and often reduce  infection to a very simple solution:  take a pill.  While HIV/AIDS is no longer considered a terminal illness, there’s nothing simple about the disease.  The progress has been remarkable, but our work is not done.

My work with HIV/AIDS began with the AIDS Walk, The AIDS Ride and as the employee educator for the Viacom/MTV Networks “Know HIV/AIDS” campaign. Working with partners across the cable, healthcare and non-profit sectors, I had the opportunity to work with many celebrity AIDS ambassadors including Common and Ashley Judd,  but most importantly the privilege to work directly with those living with the disease, their families, caregivers and communities.

YOU  too can make a difference.  All of us, through our personal actions and collaboration can make an impact:  by knowing the facts, acting in support of those living with HIV/AIDS and volunteering your time to educate others about the disease.

On World AIDS Day we take a moment to remember those lost to the disease.  It’s also a time to celebrate the amazing advances in the prevention and treatment of HIV and join forces to continue the fight against the disease.

After all, we all are living with AIDS.

Until next time:  connect, collaborate and create!

Ryan

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KNOW THE FACTS ABOUT HIV/AIDS:

In 2011:

  • 34 million [31.4 million – 35.9 million] people globally were living with HIV
  • 2.5 million [2.2 million – 2.8 million] people became newly infected with HIV
  • 1.7 million [1.5 million – 1.9 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses
  • There are approximately 3-4 million AIDS “orphans” living in Africa – both parents lost to AIDS

-Declining new HIV infections in children:  The area where perhaps most progress is being made is in reducing new HIV infections in children. Half of the global reductions in new HIV infections in the last two years have been among newborn children.

-Fewer AIDS-related deaths:  Anti-retroviral therapy has emerged as a powerful force for saving lives. In the last 24 months the number of people accessing treatment has increased by 63% globally.

-More investments:  Countries are increasing investments in the AIDS response despite a difficult economic climate. The global gap in resources needed annually by 2015 is now at 30%. In 2011, US$ 16.8 billion was available and the need for 2015 is between US$ 22-24 billion.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  AIDS.gov.

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