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World AIDS Day: Working Toward an AIDS-Free Generation

by Greg Tucker

On Saturday, Dec. 1, the global community observes World AIDS Day as the march continues toward creating an AIDS-free generation. AIDS United, a Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and AmeriCorps grantee, is one of many groups supporting the work on the front lines of this epidemic.

A red ribbon is displayed on the North Portico of the White House, Nov. 30, 2010, in advance of World AIDS Day. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

This disease has made its grim mark around the world as its spread has led to the deaths of millions and left millions more infected. In the last 30 years, progress has been made to slow the spread of AIDS and improve the quality of life and reduce the stigma of those living with the disease, but more work remains to be done.

A SIF grant to AIDS United supports innovative strategies that will increase access to care and improve health outcomes for at least 3,500 people living with HIV/AIDS through its Access to Care Initiative. Eight AIDS United sub grantees in the initiative provide low-income and marginalized individuals with innovative access to health care and support services in high-incidence cities across the United States.

One such group, the Washington AIDS Partnership, uses AmeriCorps members and community health workers in its Positive Pathways program to maintain contact with hard-to-reach women and help them overcome barriers to treatment. By building a bond of trust, the health workers are able to teach their clients about living with HIV, help them navigate the maze of service systems, and get them through the early stages or treatment until they can follow through independently. The continuation of education, testing, research, and treatment efforts like this one means, the path to ending this epidemic is clearly marked.

In a proclamation marking the 2012 World AIDS Day, President Obama noted, “The road toward an AIDS-free generation is long -- but as we mark this important observance, let us also remember that if we move forward every day with the same passion, persistence, and drive that has brought us this far, we can reach our goal. We can beat this disease. On World AIDS Day, in memory of those no longer with us and in solidarity with all who carry on the fight, let us pledge to make that vision a reality.”

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