Getting to zero by measuring and multiplying our efforts

So here we are. World AIDS Day 2011.

In the past year, there has been the news of a decline in the global HIV infection rate, but this comes with further news of a high rate of new infections in certain regions and does not mean that awareness efforts should start leveling off. These efforts must multiply more than ever, with special care taken to avoid promoting campaigns that seek to divide rather than include.

Below, the YAHAnet interns have addressed the WAD theme in distinct ways, but each account stresses the need to build and sustain energy for advocacy efforts in the year to come. Such energy has been fueling new platforms for change that showcase the engagement and leadership of the young generation (for example, CrowdOutAIDS and the soon-to-be-launched YouthMovements.org).

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Ali's thoughts

None. Nothing, No More. ZERO.

This year's World AIDS Day theme is "Getting to Zero." This topic seems so vast and huge that it brings up the question: what can you do as a youth to help contribute to "Getting to Zero?" When I came across this theme, I thought to myself what I could do to help reach the goal of "Getting to Zero." I decided to make a list of 3 things I would do to help reach the goal of "Getting to Zero."

I will NOT:

Do Zero amounts of work to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS
Use Zero amounts of protection when engaging in activities that put you at risk
Condone others behaviours of using ZERO amounts of protection

We as the people of the world need to come together. No longer should we tolerate discrimination and unnecessary suffering. No one should ignore the issue of AIDS. Together we can get to Zero! What will you do?

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Chandra's thoughts


To love your voice and to speak up!
These are two most important things you can do right now to spread the message about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention!
The best way to fight HIV is to speak out about it!
Make sure the people around you know how to protect themselves, prompt people to ask themselves: Am I acting aware? How am I putting myself at risk?
The best way to fight HIV is education!
Increase peoples' awareness, make sure they know the facts, put your own knowledge into action and let your voice be heard!

Love your voice and make sure others' hear it!!
Speak out against HIV! Spread the Word!
Educate and join others in doing the same!

Now get out there and LOVE YOUR VOICE!

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Emily's thoughts

Unity.

On this World AIDS Day, the feeling and importance of unity is jumping out at me. I feel unified with all others who will be observing this special day in whatever way suits them. Getting to zero requires this kind of unity to be with us all of the time. If victims of HIV, doctors, supporters, all others affected by or vulnerable to HIV and AIDS (which is pretty much everyone in the world) come together in spirit and action, turning the tide against AIDS is more promising. We must assure people that they are not alone in the fight against AIDS. That we as fellow activists will stand in union with the others, whether it is through raising awareness, raising funds, administering treatments, or any other benevolent act that works toward "getting to zero". Unity like this helps fight stigma by keeping the message out that there are many people waging the war against AIDS, therefore asserting that it is not only OK but important to talk about. I am grateful for today, World AIDS Day. It keeps this unity a reality and brings those in the fight closer together. In 2012, I hope that even more people will come together. With 100% awareness, getting to zero new infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS related deaths will show tremendous potential.

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Jason's thoughts

Energy Explosion.

As World AIDS Day arrives, the streets of Montreal and the walls at school teem with colour. The planning and preparation leading up to this day have been like taking a deep breath, and today is our shout to "Get to Zero". Zero tolerance for gender-based violence, zero exclusion of people living with HIV in national social protection strategies, among other goals.

There's an energy explosion for the fight against HIV/AIDS fills cities around the world—if you let yourself be part of it. It's easy to tune out all the messages and wait for the day to pass. The point of this energy explosion is to challenge and update how people perceive the problem of AIDS. This issue morphs and affects people continually, and our past efforts have contributed to the prevention of 2.5 million deaths in lower-income countries since 1995.* There is still much work to be done in getting new infections down, and through World AIDS Day we hope to introduce you to the energetic people who dedicate themselves to the struggle year-round.

It can all become a blur, with the multitude of radio broadcasts, street demonstrations, online petitions, posters, and creative displays. The best way to make this day meaningful is to stop and talk to someone. Anyone. Kick around your honest thoughts about HIV/AIDS with someone. More often than not, you’ll be surprised by how they think about it. Even more importantly, you might find yourself as the teacher on how youth think about AIDS.

*stats from UNAIDS' World AIDS Day 2011 Report

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John's thoughts

Let's not forget that the "0" in "getting to 0" is also a circle—symbolizing the need to work together, to network. "0" is neither positive nor negative, so we must not let our energy be pulled in a negative direction that excludes or threatens those living positively.