Today is World AIDS Day. I’ve noticed a bit of awareness marketing for the day, mostly from the RED campaign and the companies associated (Starbucks, Apple, Gap…) But World AIDS Day is so much more than an excuse to wear red on December 1st. It’s a day to recognize and support the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS. In Kenya and other parts of AIDS-ridden Africa, these individuals living with HIV/AIDS are said to be living positively. Living positively. What a wonderful way to look at what is otherwise seen as a death sentence.
So many groups and organizations in sub-Saharan Africa are working to reverse the negative social stigmas attached with the virus and, though there is a long way to go, they are making progress. One such organization is AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation), headquartered in Nairobi. AMREF’s goal is to educate communities and cultural groups in Africa about healthy initiatives like clean water, vaccinations, pre-natal care and HIV testing and treatments. AMREF trains African health workers to go into communities (oftentimes their own communities) to educate other Africans on how to stay healthy. This concept of Africans helping Africans is surprisingly new, but it is a huge stride toward to the goal of Africa becoming a self-sufficient continent. AMREF’s health workers educate their peers, like the story of George who lives positively and counsels his HIV-positive neighbors in the Kibera slums. Below is a short video about George and his work with AMREF in Kibera.
Today is a day for us all to live positively. To support people like George and organizations like AMREF. So wear your RED Gap shirt. Sip Starbucks coffee from your RED cup. Listen to your RED iPod. But do so with purpose – not because it’s trendy or because Bono says to, but because you actually believe in what it all stands for. Live positively. Not only on December 1st, but everyday.