World AIDS Day Observation at the Ecumenical Center

Thirteen governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the International Federation of Red Cross, will gather at the Ecumenical Center chapel on Dec. 1, to observe the 17th annual World AIDS day.

World AIDS Day is an annual campaign launched by the World Health Organization on Dec. 1, 1988, following a recommendation by a summit of world heath ministers.

The Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was first recognized in 1981; It was not until 1983 that the virus that causes AIDS – the Human Immuno deficiency Virus (HIV) – had been identified.

Twenty years later, the epidemic spread throughout the world at global proportions. According to UNAIDS - the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS - the total number of people living in HIV rose in 2004 to an estimated 39.4 million people. In the last year alone, 3.1 million people died from the disease.

Statistics also revealed that the AIDS epidemic has been growing among women and girls, particularly in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America.

At that light, the WCC and other groups will be observing this year’s World AIDS day under the theme, “Women’s voices, vulnerabilities and victories in the face of HIV/AIDS.”

The program will begin with an ecumenical prayer at the Ecumenical Center chapel in Geneva, Switzerland, and will include dance and vocal performances as well as speeches by women living with HIV. The event will close with a reception and exhibition of work by the organizations.

Other organizations at the event includes UNAIDS and the Red Crescent Societies.