By: Ray Pellecchia
File Under: NYSE Euronext
I was privileged to be at the Opening Bell ceremony yesterday for World AIDS Day (the day is today; yesterday was a curtain raiser). A group of about 40 people gathered in our Board Room before the bell, including Liza Minelli, a longtime AIDS research advocate; the designer Kenneth Cole (disclosure: he chairs the eponymous NYSE-listed company, as well as the leading research organization amfAR); members of our GLBT employee resource group and others.
There’s a certain buzz and excitement when you’re in the same room as Liza Minelli, but there was a sobering purpose to the proceedings. In his welcoming remarks, our COO Larry Leibowitz commented that AIDS has been with us so long now (about three decades) that today it is too often overlooked. But AIDS is still widespread, still deadly, and still growing. So it is incumbent on all of us to use AIDS Day to highlight the importance of finding a cure, promoting prevention and supporting those who are dealing with AIDS and HIV.
According to amfAR, in the nearly 30 years since the first AIDS cases were identified, more than 60 million people have contracted HIV, and more than 25 million have died from AIDS-related causes. Some 1.8 million died in 2009; of those, 260,000 of them were under the age of 15.
There are now more than 33 million people living with HIV or AIDS. And every day, there are more: more than 7,000 people contract HIV on average each day. That’s 300 every hour.
Those of us in business have powerful motivation to join the fight against HIV and AIDS: These diseases directly impact our employees, our customers, and more broadly all of the communities in which we operate. Just as important: We have the resources to make an impact.
How can you help? On the company level, there’s the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (disclosure: NYSE Euronext is a member). On the individual level, you can support the research led by amfAR. On World AIDS Day, let’s remember that there’s still a need, and that all of us can make a positive difference.