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Red Alert on World AIDS Day

1 December 2001 is the 14th annual World AIDS Day since the first clinical evidence of the virus was reported two decades ago.

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Carry me with you! The red ribbon is a sign of an unspoken concern, hope, support and "human security"

Approximately 40 million people are now HIV positive worldwide. In 2001 alone about five million people became infected. However, a third of the carriers don't yet know that they have it.

Some might say that these figures are frightening. AIDS is now the world's fourth biggest killer and has claimed three million lives so far this year.

Today is the day that the the red ribbon is worn on the lapels of shirts and jackets as a symbol of HIV and AIDS awareness. It is a sign of an unspoken concern, hope, support and according to Kofi Annan, the United Nationas Secretary General "human security".

"AIDS not only takes away the present, it takes away the future," said Annan in a statement. "That is the toll of AIDS (and) that toll is rising. This year’s figures on the state of the epidemic show that the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS continues to grow. Every hour of every day, almost 600 people are infected. And every hour, more than 60 children die of the virus," he states.

"I Care...Do You?" - UNAIDS

Each year, the UNAIDS organisation chooses a theme to to highlight a particular aspect of the epidemic. This year, men are the target. The campaign slogan this year, like last year's is "I Care...Do You?". This is the second year of a two-year campaign intended to create a sustained focus on the role that men play in the AIDS epidemic.

According UNAIDS, women are at special risk of HIV: they often have less control over when, where and whether sex takes place. Over 70% of HIV infections worldwide occur through sex between men and women, and a further 10% through sex between men. Another 5% or so take place among people who inject drugs, four-fifths of whom are men.

"Engaging men as partners in fighting AIDS is the surest way to change the course of the epidemic. Through the World AIDS Campaign, UNAIDS and its partners worldwide will work with both women and men, with non governmental organisations, governments, the United Nations system and the media to bring about a new, and much-needed, focus on men."

Gib AIDS Keine Chance: Awareness in Germany

In Germany 38.000 people are infected with the virus. This year a further 2.000 people are expected to be infected, the same number as last year. 500 people have died as a result so far this year. In an effort to reduce the rate of infection and increase awareness, an eye-catching billboard campaign has been launched. Regardless of where one travels in the country, one is more than likely to see at least one of these billboards that asks its viewer to 'Give Aids No Chance'.

The actual poster itself consists of nothing more than a brightly coloured background and equally bright but contrasting picture of a condom with a tagline beneath it. A favourite is a big white poster with an oversized picture of a black condom in the centre with the tagline 'Timeless, the little black number'. The billboard campaign is reinforced with television as well as radio and print advertising. Naturally, an informative and easy-to-use web site is also on the information highway for the internet-savvy.

However, many German companies and organisation are targetting Africa and in particular Southern Africa in their drive to combat HIV and AIDS. Africa is by far the worst affected continent in the world. The estimated 3.4 million new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa in 2001 means that 28.1 million Africans now live with the virus. UNAIDS estimates that 2.3 million Africans died of the disease in 2001.

AIDS epidemic rising fastest in Eastern Europe

A new report released today, "AIDS Epidemic Update 2001", says the number of HIV infections in Eastern Europe is rising faster than anywhere else in the world. Reported figures are largely underestimated but even so, the latest figures reveal there were more than 75.000 reported new infections in Russia by early November, a 15-fold increase in just three years.

"HIV/AIDS is unequivocally the most devastating disease we have ever faced, and it will get worse before it gets better," said Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

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