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Life and Religion

30-year fight with AIDS continues
Dec. 1 focuses on awareness at Charlotte gala
 
Published Wednesday, November 28, 2012 10:14 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett

Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day. It is a time when people all over the globe unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS to show support for those living with the disease and to commemorate the millions who have died.


The 2012 theme is “Working Together for an AIDS-Free Generation.” It is a lofty goal that AIDS advocate Jameka Whitten of Charlotte believes is attainable with the right resources.


“I think we just need to pledge more money for education and research,” she said. “The more money, the more education and awareness you bring to a subject, the better the chances are that you can bring about a cure… or make sure that people are aware and have the information they need to not get infected in the first place.”


Despite the number of advances that have been made in understanding and treating the disease, it continues to spread. For that reason, Whitten believes World AIDS Day remains as important today as it was when it was first established by the World Health Organization over 30 years ago.


“We’ve got to bring this disease to light,” says Whitten. “We should treat it in the same vein that we would treat any type of infectious disease or any other kind of disease that is affecting the community such as cancer or diabetes.”


WHO estimates that in 2011 there were 34.2 million people worldwide living with HIV. HIV/AIDS is one of the most destructive pandemics in history and has claimed more than 25 million lives since the virus was first discovered in the 1980s.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 1.1 million Americans living with HIV and that one in five are unaware that they are infected. In 2010, Mecklenburg County reported 312 new HIV cases, and as of December 31, 2010, the total number living with HIV/AIDS was 4,479, according to the Mecklenburg Health Department.


Whitten is the Charlotte ambassador for The Red Pump Project, a national movement dedicated to raising awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.


In observance of World AIDS Day, Whitten is hosting the fourth annual Red Pump/Red Tie Affair on Dec. 1 at the Levine Museum. The gala will include entertainment, silent auction and a runway fashion show.


The Regional AIDS Interfaith Network has been the beneficiary of the annual Red Pump fundraiser since its inception in 2009. A portion of proceeds will be donated to RAIN’s Trinity Project, a faith-based prevention program for women.

According to the CDC, women accounted for 23 percent of estimated new HIV infections in 2009.

For more information about HIV/AIDS in women or for ticket information for the Red Pump Red Tie Affair, visit www.redpumpproject.org.

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