BY Benjamin Ryan
November 22 2006 1:00 AM ET
Although 'Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise' will be the ongoing umbrella theme the World AIDS Campaign is using for World AIDS Day on December 1, the organization, which has been charged with overseeing the global event since 2005, has decided to stress the additional concept of 'Accountability' this year.
Tom Scalway, spokesman for the organization, says that after the directors discussed their goals for World AIDS Day, they found that 'the lowest common denominator of all these different things is that what civil society should be doing is actually making sure that policymakers keep their promises on whatever the issue might be.'
'It's easy to pay lip service to AIDS,' he says. 'It's far harder to deliver. So the struggle for us is to try to support some kind of social movement that does actually engage in these declarations and does engage in these political commitments.'
One benchmark the World AIDS Campaign is pushing for is universal access to treatment and prevention services through the workplace by 2010. The campaign is expecting 30,000 demonstrators in Cape Town, South Africa, to demand such access, since the country is perhaps the most notable for its resistant governmental response to the AIDS crisis. And 50,000 more people are expected to march on the chambers of parliament in India, where HIV's impact is accelerating rapidly among the general population.
'These huge mobilizations will help put the pressure to some degree on politicians,' Scalway says, 'and we'll try to get as much coverage in the media as we can.'
The World AIDS Campaign is relying on global unions and labor organizations as well as faith-based and youth groups to organize events around the day. A global transit union is planning outreach programs for truckers, who are believed to be major carriers of HIV in places like India and African countries. The international group Dance4Life is arranging AIDS dance-a-thons in several countries around the world.
Individuals and groups are being asked to make a commitment to get involved--keeping with this year's focus of 'Accountability'--and to share how they will do that online (www.worldaidscampaign.net/community).
The World AIDS Campaign has also put out a call to wear the color red on World AIDS Day. In tandem with this request, musician and activist Bono has helped launch Project Red (www.joinred.com), which is promoting various red-colored products, a portion of whose profits will go to the Global Fund.