World AIDS Day

From its inception in 1988, World AIDS Day has always been a day where people all over the world are united in the fight against HIV/AIDS, a virus that infects close to 33.3 million people worldwide. This year, we will continue to show our support for the ones who are living with HIV and pay tribute to the ones who have died.

Here at the GlobeMed at Rutgers University chapter, World AIDS Day means something more for us. Having just been founded this year, GlobeMed at Rutgers University will have the honor of working very closely with the grassroots organization, Cooperation for Social Services and Development (CSSD) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. CSSD is an organization that was founded in 2008 in response to the number of communities in Phnom Penh who were at high risk for HIV/AIDS. These communities include women entertainment workers, men who have sex with men, and intravenous drug users. These communities are often not able to get the health care they need due to the amount of stigma that surrounds them. Since 2008, CSSD continues to fight for the health and human rights of these marginalized communities in the capital. This year, GlobeMed at Rutgers University will be working with CSSD to provide an HIV/AIDS Prevention Program.

Our project, "HIV/AIDS Prevention among Entertainment Workers" will directly affect the lives of the women entertainment workers in Phnom Penh. The outreach program will provide the women with discussion groups and peer facilitators in order to discuss HIV/AIDS prevention, obstacles the women face in getting healthcare, other health issues, and to promote safe sexual practices. The project will also serve as a support system, where the women will be able to express any emotional and psychological struggles they face. The support system will be extremely crucial as most of these young women have left their families behind in poor provinces and sacrificed greatly in order to provide financial aid to those back at home. We hope to improve the lives of these women and their children, along with others within the Phnom Penh communities.

Our goal of preventing HIV/AIDS in Phnom Penh is just a small, and yet very important, part of a larger movement against HIV/AIDS. Just a little over two hours ago, I read an article about President Obama's speech at George Washington University in honor of World AIDS Day. He vowed to continue U.S. efforts in fighting AIDS by providing treatment to 6 million people around the world, a 2 million increase from the previous goal! He  challenged other countries to step up their commitments, saying, "We can beat this disease. We can win this fight. We just have to keep at it, today, tomorrow, and every day until we get to zero" (Reuters). HIV/AIDS is something we can beat. By promoting safe sexual practices, understanding how it is transmitted, and by understanding how it can be prevented, each one of us can improve our lives and the lives of others. 

Join us in the fight against HIV/AIDS,

- Karen Lin

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