March 24th, 2008 | Published in Google.org
Google.org recently hosted the aids2031 Young Leaders Summit at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, CA. More than 40 leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS, most of them between 20 and 40 years of age, traveled to the conference from over 15 nations, including South Africa, Rwanda, Norway, the United Kingdom, China, Thailand, Bolivia, Argentina, the U.S., and Mexico.
aids2031 is a consortium of partners - including doctors, economists, epidemiologists, and biomedical, social, and political scientists - who have joined together to explore what we've learned from the fight against HIV/AIDS during the first quarter-century of the epidemic, and to come up with options and plans for changing the course of the epidemic over the next quarter-century.
According to latest estimates, about 33 million people are living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), which causes AIDS. The disease has already killed about 25 million people. Sub-Saharan Africa has been hit especially hard, but the disease is spreading rapidly in other regions. AIDS doesn't only have calamitous effects on the health of individuals, but wreaks havoc on the economic and social stability of the countries affected. For more detailed information, see UNAIDS' 2007 AIDS Epidemic Update.
Some of the many topics discussed at the conference included:
- Using modern technology, including the 3.3 billion mobile phones currently in use, to educate young people about AIDS prevention and treatment, and involve them in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
- Identifying and mentoring young leaders in the fight against AIDS, and promoting intergenerational dialogue among AIDS activists.
- Creating a Global Health & Development Corps, modeled on the Peace Corps and similar groups, that can organize and support young volunteers to go wherever they are needed to work on local health issues.