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As I woke up today, fresh off of completing a nearly 20 page paper and gearing myself up for working on another lengthy assignment, my mind was directly fixed upon the upcoming horrors of Finals period. With exams barely a week away and assignments piling up, Georgetown students focus tends to be situated directly on their own upcoming problems. During this time we begin to lose sight of what may be going on in the world outside of the Hilltop, and proper perspective is often the first thing to go. That is why as I glanced over the news today while on CNN.com I barely registered the words in front of me. They were part of something outside of myself, something which, for the moment, I could not concern myself with. However, as my eyes meandered over the computer screen, one story stuck out at me, and, at least for the moment, has partially snapped me out of my zombie-like condition. Perhaps it is because I am woefully ignorant (a very real possibility), but this story informed me of something of which I had no idea perviously. And, more imortantly, it has made me step back and think for at least a moment. You see, up until a few minutes ago, I had no idea that today was World AIDS Day.

Now, as I said, perhaps most people are aware of this. Maybe I am simply completely uninformed and ignorant. However, if I am not, if others like me exist, than we all need to take a step back and examine our lives and values. HIV and AIDS has taken 2.1 million lives in 2007, and the numbers appear to be on the rise. Currently, around 33.2 million people have HIV or AIDS. This epidemic is devastating many areas of the world, such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Indonesia. Moreover, AIDS is becoming a growing threat in still more countries, such as Ukraine and China, with China alone at risk of having over 50 million people infected. This cannot stand. We must do more, and we must act now.

The first thing to be done, is to open up our wallets today and donate money to the cause. In America, Ron Paul, certifiably insane presidential candidate who would be perfectly content to allow Chuck Norris and Ric Flair to be our country's lone source of national defense (if they were not already supporting his only-slightly less frightening oppponent Mike Huckabee), is able to raise, in a single day, 4.2 million dollars. Undoubtedly, this sort of money would be put to much better use if it was donated to help slow the spread of AIDS. However, we cannot make a change through money alone. We must also strive to spread the word about AIDS and AIDS prevention, by encouraging testing and increasing awareness.

As I began this post, I was going to do something I seldom, if ever do. I was going to praise George W. Bush, for repeating his call on U.S. lawmakers to double support for AIDS programs to 30 billion over five years. However, after considration, I find myself in the much more comfortable and familiar position of criticizing our great Decider. It is all well and good to make such a statement once a year, on World AIDS Day, however, as president Bush can and must do more. This is an issue, which Bush, and all politicians, must place at the forefront of their agendas, and something which the entire American public must be totally aware of. Surely, if we can commit thousands of troops to Iraq in order to 'liberate the Iraqi people,' then we can make it a priority to do more in the fight against AIDS in order to save millions of lives.

And, if the government does not step up to the plate, and continues to make half-hearted calls for change, we still can do this ourselves. We can raise money, increase awareness, encourage testing, and try to make a difference. And, hopefully by next year more people will know that December 1 is World AIDS Day. I can tell you that at least one more person will.