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Notice to Readers: World AIDS Day, December 1, 2002

Please note: An erratum has been published for this article. To view the erratum, please click here.

"Live and Let Live" is the theme designated by the Joint United Nations Program on Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) for this year's World AIDS Day, December 1, 2002. This year's theme highlights the challenges that stigma and discrimination pose to the success of prevention, treatment, and care programs for persons living with HIV/AIDS.

AIDS continues to be a stigmatizing health issue for infected persons (1). Discrimination against persons with infectious diseases is not new (2), and after 20 years of HIV and AIDS public education, 18.7% of respondents in a 2000 survey reported some level of agreement with the statement, "People who get AIDS through sex or drug use have gotten what they deserve," a proxy measure for stigma (3). One fourth of these respondents also reported misinformed opinions on modes of HIV transmission (3).

At the end of 2001, an estimated 362,827 persons in the United States (4) and 40 million persons worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS (5). Worldwide in 2001, three million persons died of AIDS and 14 million children lost one or both parents to AIDS (5). Overcoming stigma and discrimination against persons with AIDS remains a challenge to effective public health prevention and education programs.

Information about domestic HIV infection and AIDS is available from CDC's National Prevention Information Network at and from CDC's National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention at Additional information is available at 800-342-2437 or in Spanish at 800-344-7432. Information on the global pandemic is available from the Joint United Nations Program on AIDS at


  1. Herek GM, Capitanio JP, Widaman KF. HIV-related stigma and knowledge in the United States: prevalence and trends, 1991--1999. Am J Public Health 2002;92:371--7.
  2. Valdiserri R. HIV/AIDS stigma: an impediment to public health. Am J Public Health 2002;92:341--2.
  3. CDC. HIV-related knowledge and stigma---United States, 2000. MMWR 2000;49:1062--4.
  4. CDC. HIV/AIDS surveillance report. Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, 2001;12.
  5. UNAIDS. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Report on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, 2002. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, July 2002.

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