This year, the international day of action focuses on women and girls living with HIV and Aids and celebrates progress in the fight against the epidemic.
Outline script for assembly leaders
On Carol's 16th birthday she had a surprise phone call from her boyfriend. Steve was in tears. He had just been told he was HIV positive.
Immediately, Carol thought of the night they had "experimented". In her anxiety, she told her best friend. Word spread. She noticed some of her friends keeping away from her. The manager of the burger bar where she had a part-time job made life so unpleasant she gave up working there. That was six years ago. Carol isn't HIV positive and Steve is still fit and has made new friends thanks to a support group.
But HIV and Aids have not gone away. In the UK, in 2002, there were 6,500 new HIV diagnoses. Around the world, most infections occur through heterosexual sex and it does not just affect men. Worldwide, 2,000 babies and young people are infected every day, through transmission at birth or through sexual transmission in teenagers. There are now 2.1 million children living with HIV and it has been estimated that 14 million children are orphans because their parents have died from it.
HIV and Aids also present special risks to women. They are more likely to be infected than men during heterosexual sex. They are often pressured into unsafe sex and are more likely to face sexual violence. In some countries, such as Rwanda and Kosovo, there have even been reports of women being deliberately raped and infected as a form of ethnic cleansing.
World Aids Day exists to fight ignorance about the illness. It can't be caught from cutlery and crockery or from lavatory seats or from hugging. It can be caught from needles, unsafe sex, blood and semen. It can also be transmitted in breast milk. Although there are artificial alternatives to this, these are often too expensive for the millions of women victims in the African continent.
Make and sell red awareness ribbons to support an HIVAids charity.
Design posters illustrating the impact of the illness on families.
Take the "Women and Aids" quiz at www.avert.org womenquiz.htm
Posters and other resources are available through links at the World Aids Campaign 2004 web site www.worldaidsday.org