THE BLOG
01/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

What World AIDS Day Means To Me

For some, today is a day of reflection, to remember a loved one or friends lost to AIDS. For others, today is a day to acknowledge the progress we've made fighting this pandemic, and the tens of thousands of lives that have been saved thanks to the availability of life-saving antiretroviral medicine, and new ways of getting access to it, like (RED).

For me, today is a day where I think of what still needs to be done, of the literally millions of people we still need to help in Africa who are fighting to survive. I recently traveled to Rwanda and saw the impact of the (RED) money at work. Clinics that a few years ago lacked basic sanitation and supplies, now are functioning well and helping thousands of people live a better life. Real results in preventing mother to child transmission of the virus . Real progress in getting the anti retroviral drugs to those in need and to stemming the spread of AIDS. However, this clearly isn't work that is finished and today is the day where I see not only how far we've come, but how much more remains to be done.

In sub-Saharan Africa, over 4,000 lives are lost every day to this preventable, treatable disease. Mothers and fathers die for lack of two pills that cost 40 cents a day. There are 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa, and it is projected that there could be 18 million by the end of the decade. Children bringing up children. It's not a cause. It's an emergency.

The numbers can seem overwhelming, the size of the epidemic so massive, that we ask, what can one person do? Well, thanks to (RED) purchases, you have driven $115 million into the Global Fund to buy the two pills a day that keep a person living with HIV in Africa alive. Through the power of the purse you have caused companies to give a percentage of their profits to the Global Fund.

And today, Starbucks is donating 5 cents for every single drink sold directly to The Global Fund and throughout the rest of the holiday season, there will be special (RED) drinks available at Starbucks. They sell 50 million cups of coffee every day. You do the math -- potentially millions will be delivered to the fund. And all you have to do is buy a cup of coffee. At no extra cost to you.

Also today, we are launching (RED) WIRE, a digital music magazine that, for $5 a month, gives you amazing music from artists like John Legend, U2, Jenny Lewis, Keith Urban, Elvis Costello and more. You'll also get special content and updates from Africa -- with half the money going directly to The Global Fund. There's a launch party going on right now at red.msn.com -- stop by and you can sign up for two free issues of (RED) WIRE.

Tomorrow, it won't be World AIDS Day again, but the need will still be there as it will be every single day from now to next December 1st. I hope that as you look at your holiday list, you'll think about including some (RED) gifts -- buy (RED) and you save lives, it's as simple as that. To all of you who choose (RED), thank you. What you choose to buy matters.