World AIDS Day and an AIDS Free Generation of Babies

Malaak-Compton RockEditor’s Note: Guest blogger Malaak-Compton Rock (wife of comedian Chris Rock) is a mother of two daughters who is very passionate about making a change in communities around the world.  She is the author of “If It Takes a Village, Build One,” and the founder of Angel Rock Project, an organization with a global volunteer exchange program for at-risk youth called Journey for Change.  In this guest blog entry, Malaak-Compton Rock writes about how parents can ensure babies are born HIV-free in five years.

The AIDS Free Generation Is Due in 2015
By Malaak Compton-Rock

Today is World AIDS Day, which may not resonate with a lot of people the way it did years ago when AIDS was an urgent health crisis in our country.   This year, however, I’m writing to sound the alarm and make sure that we start to pay attention again.

We are poised to achieve one of the most important goals in the historic fight against AIDS and one that is especially relevant to all of us as parents. 

Within five years, we can create the first generation of babies born HIV-free in three decades.   

Let that sink in for a moment. 

For the first time since this disease started ravaging our society (and killed more than 25 million people), we have a shot to give an entire generation a healthy start.

It won’t be easy.  It will take hard work.  But, it is completely possible.

In the last few years the world has made huge progress in providing women and children with access to treatment that prevent transmission of HIV to babies. The rate of this success is increasing. Between 2004 to 2007, the proportion of HIV-positive pregnant women who received this treatment increased from 9% to 33% and between 2007 to 2008, from 33% to 45%. The global goal is to reach the remaining 55% within 5 years.

I’ve seen first-hand the impact HIV/AIDS has on families in Africa, the region hardest hit by this disease (90% of all babies born with HIV are born here). In the past two years, I’ve taken a group of teens from Brooklyn to South Africa as part of my Journey For Change program. This summer our teens served in the poverty-stricken shanty towns of Diepsloot and Soweto, helping orphaned and vulnerable children and granny-led households (grandmothers caring for grandchildren because their own children, mothers and fathers, are dying of AIDS).   There you can see the pain that exists as this disease decimates families, but you can also dare to dream about replacing that pain with joy, when every mother has access to the medicine needed to protect her unborn child.

Today, I’m working with (RED) as we launch an important initiative called “The AIDS Free Generation Is Due in 2015.” Our goal is to raise awareness and funding to help reach this goal. However, we know this is just one part of the solution.  It will also require continued political good will and focus from governments around the world.  If we keep this on the forefront of the fight against HIV/AIDS, we can ensure that the tools exist to bring a generation of babies into this world that will be born free of the burden of HIV/AIDS.

Learn more at WWW.JOINRED.COM.

As a parent, what does World Aids Day mean to you? Read our World Aids Day post here and share your thoughts in the Comments area.

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