Peace Corps Commemorates World AIDS Day

December 1, 2005

U.S. Surgeon General to Address Peace Corps

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 1, 2005 The highest number of volunteers ever are working on HIV/AIDS-related projects, and they will host awareness and educational activities as Peace Corps volunteers and staff mark World AIDS Day.

Peace Corps events will culminate on Friday, when Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, visits Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. to discuss the U.S. government's efforts in fighting the disease at home and abroad.

Dr. Carmona became the nation's 17th Surgeon General in August 2002. A native of New York City, Dr. Carmona's career in public service began when he joined the Army in 1967. He later joined the Army's Special Forces and returned from Vietnam as a combat-decorated veteran. Dr. Carmona holds both a bachelor's degree and a medical degree from the University of California - San Francisco and a master of public health degree from the University of Arizona.

As an example of overseas events, Peace Corps volunteers in the Dominican Republic will join government officials, community leaders, and thousands of others for commemorations in and near the island's capital, Santo Domingo. On World AIDS Day, they will join Dominican youths and adults to form a human chain down a busy street in the capital.

Then, over the weekend, volunteers in the Dominican Republic will lead a national conference on youth and HIV/AIDS as a part of the Escojo Mi Vida (I Choose My Life) campaign. More than 100 youth health promoters will attend the conference and learn ways to serve as peer educators in their communities.

In other posts across the world, Peace Corps volunteers and their host communities will commemorate World AIDS Day through concerts, plays, discussions, and other awareness activities.

Currently, more than 2,600 Peace Corps volunteers are working in HIV/AIDS, including 13 Crisis Corps and 43 Peace Corps volunteers funded through the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. In all, 90 percent of Peace Corps countries conduct HIV/AIDS activities.

As the HIV/AIDS pandemic spreads, prevention and care has become an important part of many Peace Corps volunteers' assignments. In 2005, Peace Corps volunteers assisted more than 890,000 people and trained almost 50,000 service providers.

Through the President's Emergency Plan, the Peace Corps has enhanced its programs to address the need for HIV/AIDS prevention, support, and treatment. The Peace Corps has programs in 9 of the 15 focus countries targeted by the President's Emergency Plan.

Since 1961, more than 182,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.

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