Today marks the 6th annual observance of World AIDS Day. Since its
introduction in 1988, such influential organizations as the United Nations
and the World Health Assembly, as well as local community groups like AIDS
Response Knoxville, have joined in efforts to educate the public about the
horrible disease that now plagues approximately 985,000 around the globe.

According to information supplied from ARK, this is a 37 percent increase
since June 30, 1993. What is most disturbing is the World Health
Organization's estimate, taking into consideration underreporting of cases
and reporting delay, of approximately 4 million AIDS cases occurring
worldwide. And the organization further estimates that by the year 2000,
the cumulative total of HIV infections in men, women and children will
range between 30 and 40 million.

In the United States alone, a reported 361,164 AIDS cases had been
diagnosed In 1993, and the total number of known deaths since Jan. 1981
totaled 220, 736, according to the Centers For Disease Control. It is
currently estimated that 1 million Americans are infected with HIV. That's
one in every 250 people.

In Knox County, 284 AIDS cases have been reported since 1982, and 223 HIV
cases have been reported since Jan. 1, 1992.

Recent reports of AIDS vaccine testing have offered a little hope that one
day the medical world can find a solution, or at least a way to curb the
number of cases cropping up every day through preventive medicine and
education.

But as we observe World AIDS Day, instead of dwelling on the gloom and doom
of the situation, we should not forget that people are living with HIV and
AIDS every day and are still leading productive lives.

Today's Beacon is dedicated toward educating the UT community about
HIV and AIDS. A feature on a local resident that contracted the virus in
1991 offers a compelling story of how HIV has changed his life and made him
rethink his priorities and goals. It's heartening to know that something
good can come out of something so bad. He knows from personal experience
and from his own lack of knowledge that education is key to begin the
battle against HIV and AIDS.