A Word in Edgewise: Getting to Zero – Make it Happen

Whether you consider AIDS–and the AIDS afflicted– to be an abomination, a thing that “doesn’t affect my life;” a vague jumble of vast numbers, or the face of friends and loved ones lost to an implacable disease, it is a fact, and it is not going away.

If you’re in the first group, choosing to dismiss AIDS altogether or think it can’t affect you and yours–think again. You could, if you wish to dismiss the actual suffers, consider the bottom line: the myriad orphaned children, the lost manhours affecting global economies, the medical costs of tending to the afflicted.

However you come to it, do think about AIDS and the fact that it is not going to go away unless you (we all) think about it and do something. World AIDS Day was started on 1st December 1988, and is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. It is an important way to remind people that HIV has not gone away, and that there is much to be done.

According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2009 some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS.

It has become something of a cliché to quote John Donne’s oft-repeated “No man is an island…” but less emphasized that he penned Meditation XVII in celebration of surviving a 20-day bout of sickness, gazing intimately into the abyss of isolation and mortality during the London’s typhus epidemic of October,1623.

The famous lines are just part of this longer piece in which he also wrote, “As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness” and then, “No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

And still does. Take this December 1st to consider Donne’s words. It will take all Mankind working together to reach Zero.

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