It's World AIDS day today and I've noticed several messages and tweets talking about "Happy World AIDS Day" and "Celebrate World AIDS Day…" While I understand that people are spreading the word and participating for a cause, it's the choice of words that I find a bit inappropriate. I doubt we would hear "Happy Cancer Day" or something similar.
Nevertheless, there are a bunch of things that people are doing today in recognition, shall we say, of HIV and AIDS. Participating in a bit of guilt-free consumerism by buying things (RED), wearing red ribbons and encouraging each other to practice safe sex. One thing I'd like to encourage is taking the time to go a bit deeper and understand more about HIV and AIDS. Not just the fact that nameless people in poor countries are dying but, perhaps interrogating the most readily-available information and looking at the wider socio-economic factors that come into play with what has become more than just a disease but, a booming business and at times, a weapon of propaganda.
Consider getting yourself an alternative education. Check out Alive and Well, a comprehensive site that challenges several assumptions about HIV and AIDS. Get your hands on a copy of the intriguing film, The Other Side of AIDS, which explores what mainstream media will not.
Images: using art and public spaces to raise awareness. But do these solutions suffice to address the complexities around sex, HIV and AIDS? Top – a sex-ed mural in Tanzania, via globalpost (view the full collection here). Bottom: a photo I took at a primary school in Tausa, Taita (Kenya).