I remember being very young sitting in front of the television watching with my grandmother and seeing a sweet little girl not much older than I was at the time explain to Oprah and the world that she had AIDS.

As a young person in 1998, Hydeia Broadbent was the first to introduce me and many others to the epidemic of AIDS and HIV which today has claimed so many lives, some of whom were close to me. This disease has made an impactful arrival and has claimed residence here in our communities.

In recognition of World Aids Day, thousands of cities and communities this year dimmed their lights in support of the Light for Rights campaign which focuses on human rights, HIV and AIDS. At the same time, a few other household names dimmed their social networking.

Celebrities such as Alicia Keys, Usher Raymond, Swizz Beats, Serena Williams, Kim and Khloe Kardashian and Lala Vasquez have declared themselves digitally dead meaning they will not use Twitter or Facebook until their fundraising goal of $1,000,000 has been met by their fans through the Keep a Child Alive Foundation. As of noon yesterday $23,000 had been raised.

Thankfully, we are a long way from 1988 and have made a huge difference toward increasing awareness of the epidemic. Research shows that there has been a significant decrease in the number of AIDS and HIV cases.

The 2010 Global Update on the AIDS Epidemic by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that in 2009, the pace of new infections had declined by almost 20 percent compared to 1999. While we are on an upward journey to prevent infections, there is still more work to be done. We all must play a part in preventing the spread of this disease and donating to its cure.