World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day was marked by National Societies with a variety of activities – all with the theme of fighting HIV/AIDS-related discrimination. The events ranged from a poster competition throughout East Africa, to graffiti art and street theatre in Geneva and poer education workshops from Azerbaijan to Venezuela.
“The world is losing the battle against HIV/AIDS. Each year, more and more people die from the disease and it is the stigma and misinformation around HIV that is killing people,” said Federation President Juan Manuel Su‡rez del Toro. The world has had more than two decades to learn about the disease and how it is passed on, so there is no excuse for this continued abuse of human dignity.
” Rather than face up to the consequences of social stigma, millions of people are placing themselves at risk or refusing to seek treatment. In an effort to dispel the myths surrounding the disease, the Federation last year launched a campaign called “The Truth About AIDS. Pass It On…
” The anti-stigma campaign was reinforced this year with the theme “You Cannot get AIDS by…” Stamps and posters have becn produced showing that the virus cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites, sharing a glass, kissing or hugging. The Federation also criticised certain faith-based and other organizations that condemn the use of condoms and single out high-risk groups for blame and discrimination.
“These organizations are acting irresponsibly by providing misleading information about HIV/AIDS. Safe sex works. Needle exchange programmes not only help to reduce HIV infection among injecting drug users, but also open a way to reducing drug addiction itself,” said Dr Massimo Barra, creator of an Italian Red Cross foundation that assists injecting drug users and board member of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.