Eric Aoki knows from experience what it’s like to lose someone to AIDS.
“I lost my partner to AIDS five years ago,” the associate professor of speech communication said.
Aoki has committed himself to World AIDS Day ever since.
“From both the personal and socio-cultural perspectives, I have committed to the education and awareness of HIV/AIDS as well as prevention,” he said.
With 39.5 million people living with HIV internationally and 4.3 million becoming infected with the disease this year, World AIDS Day has a greater importance each year to remind the public that HIV is not going away.
Today marks the 19th annual World AIDS Day. The World AIDS Campaign organizes the day of remembrance, education and awareness.
“Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise” will be WAC’s slogan each year until 2010. The slogan is to ensure that governments, policy makers and regional health authorities remember the targets they set to fight HIV and AIDS.
To go along with the slogan is this year’s theme of “accountability,” which is designed to inspire citizens around the world to hold their political leaders accountable for the promises they made to the prevention and research of AIDS.
Executive Director Peter Pios of UNAIDS – the United Nations’ program on HIV/AIDS – said he believes it is important for all countries to be held accountable.
“The theme of this World AIDS Day is accountability,” he said. “If we are to reach the targets that countries have set for themselves, then now more then ever, we need to make the money work.”
Many CSU programs are donating their time and money toward the cause. They will be sponsoring many events throughout the day.
The Lory Student Center and Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art are coordinating a local Day Without Art, a national program that covers up artwork in an effort to mourn and remember victims of AIDS in the artistic community.
The International Education program will be handing out red ribbons on the Lory Student Center Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The ribbons are meant to honor those who have died from AIDS and show support for those living with HIV and AIDS.
Campus Activities and Hartshorn Health Service is hosting a community art project at the LSC Plaza at the same time.
The CSU World AIDS Day committee will host a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. in the LSC Art Lounge. International Programs coordinator Shauna DeLuca is hoping for a large turnout.
“We hope for as many as we can get,” she said. “It’s a nice tribute for those with HIV.”
Staff writer Jack Genadek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.