Yesterday, December 1, 2013, was World AIDS Day. And although many of us here in the U.S. were headed back home from the Thanksgiving Day Holiday, there were candlelight vigils and remembrances for the 25 million men, women, and children who have died worldwide since AIDS was first discovered. It’s almost too many to really wrap your brain around: 25 million people! And although many people live with HIV/AIDS thanks to amazing breakthroughs in medicine, the goal is ZERO new infections. Zero. Now THAT’s a number I can wrap my brain around.
To me, the fight against AIDS is personal. Not only did I know men who died of AIDS in the 1980s (and have dedicated my latest book to them), my husband’s work is in part focused on preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child in the developing world.
The Pratt Pouch, my husband’s project, has garnered a great deal of attention from our government as well as from other countries. The pouch is something like a ketchup packet (see photo), but this packet is filled with anti-retroviral drugs that an HIV-positive mother can give her baby in the first day or so of his/her life to prevent the baby from being infected by HIV. Because in many developing countries, mothers give birth to their babies at home, where there are no medical professionals to administer the medicine. Armed with the liquid medicine, which will remain stable in the pouches without refrigeration, Duke University engineers are helping to decrease the number of new HIV infections worldwide.
From an even more personal place, I can speak to the toll the AIDS epidemic left on the community of musicians I was a part of when I was singing opera professionally. My most recent release, Encore, is dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS, and in particular to one of my accompanist/coaches, who died of AIDS in the late 1980s. What an incredible loss of talent and youth the musical community suffered as a result of AIDS! Famous musicians such as Freddie Mercury, Liberace, and Tom Fogerty, and those who will only be remembered by their friends and colleagues, like my accompanist/coach, David.
So while we celebrate the holiday season, I felt I needed to stop and consider what a better world this would be without AIDS. A world with ZERO infection. An end to the mounting death toll. In honor of World AIDS Day, I personally pledge to donate $1.00 per book sold from my Dreamspinner catalog on the Dreamspinner website from December 1st through December 7th to Save the Children’s Global Action Fund. Buy a book, donate to your favorite charity, but do SOMETHING to make a difference in the fight against AIDS. Zero is the best number of all! -Shira
Just a reminder: the Blue Notes 2013 Holiday Blog Tour giveaway is still going on. Enter to win great prizes including a Kindle loaded with ebooks, a sterling silver music-themed necklace, and other fun stuff. You can enter more than once by tweeting, liking on Facebook, buying books, and commenting on tour posts. Click here for the Rafflecopter entry form: a Rafflecopter giveaway Giveaway ends on New Year’s Eve!