World Aids Day Comes To Ajijic
By Sally Myers
Whom among us has not been touched by AIDS, the most critical epidemic in recorded history? At a recent cocktail party, a comment was overheard: “AIDS? Hasn’t that been eradicated?” Would it surprise you to hear there are 34 million people in the world living with AIDS? In an effort to increase awareness about the dangers and prevention of HIV/AIDS, a group of dedicated Lakeside volunteers has formed to celebrate World AIDS Day in Ajijic, on Sunday, November 30th, and Monday, December 1st, 2014. Spearheaded by Bobby Lancaster and Dan Blackburn, the group is called AJIJIC CARES, which is an acronym for: COMUNIDAD/ACEPTACION
World AIDS Day was started in 1988 by James Bunn and Thomas Netter. They worked for the Global Program for AIDS, a division of the World Health Organization. The annual event is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show their support for those living with HIV/AIDS, provide education about the disease with regards to prevention and treatment, and commemorate those who have died. These are the same goals of the newly formed AJIJIC CARES organization.
World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day, and a model to provide a focus on other diseases worldwide. Due to the success of World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization has developed other global health campaigns such as World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World No More Tobacco Day, World Tuberculosis Day, World Malaria Day, and World Hepatitis Day.
The red ribbon has become the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV/AIDS. It was the first ribbon symbol, and it inspired later versions such as the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. It was designed in 1991 by twelve photographers, painters, film makers and costume designers who brainstormed in their shared gallery space in New York’s East Village. Their simple idea has become one of the most recognized symbols in the world.
When the new committee was formed in Ajijic, they wondered what AIDS support services might be available in Guadalajara and discovered VIHAS DE VIDA. Bobby Lancaster said, “This group has given me a new found appreciation for the youth of today. They are dedicated, hardworking individuals committed to HIV/AIDS education, prevention and support. Their services provide anonymous testing, counseling, and they are available to take people to doctor’s appointments and hospitals as needed. They have a unique outreach program designed for schools that includes flash cards as a teaching aid.”
Currently, 80% of all HIV cases, in Jalisco, have progressed to the AIDS stage before detection. The community education provided by VIHAS DE VIDA encourages early detection and their support helps individuals and their loved ones live with HIV/AIDS on a day-to-day basis. They are working hand-in-hand with Ajijic CARES.
Festivities will take place on the Ajijic Malecon November 30th and December 1st. The group plans to construct a 12-foot-tall red ribbon to display at the amphitheater. VIHAS DE VIDA will be on hand to distribute HIV/AIDS information and there will be local music and dancing. If you wish to pay tribute to someone special, feel free to bring messages, flowers or mementos to place by the sculpture. All are welcome and don’t forget to wear your red ribbon.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com