Russell Simmons Urges Action and Support on World Aids Day

Rap mogul Russell Simmons acknowledged the importance of World Aids Day Friday (Dec. 1) while urging the public to be more active in bringing

awareness of the disease.

The recognition came as the Simmons' led a fact-finding delegation to Kimberley, South Africa.

The expedition was for the hip-hop pioneer's Simmons Jewelry Company.

"Today is World AIDS Day and I am humbled to be present in Africa where the pandemic of HIV/AIDS is a deadly reality for millions of people," Simmons said Friday in a statement. "We need to increase public awareness campaigns throughout the world on this issue. We support the efforts of the numerous humanitarian and health groups, as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations, that are diligently dedicated in their response to this great human crisis. We add our voice and work in complete solidarity with all who are standing up and taking action on this day."

Established in 1988 by the World Health Organization in 1988, World AIDS Day is observed every Dec. 1 to bring global attention on the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

According to reports, more than 25 million people

have died from AIDS since 1981. There are an estimated 1,039,000 to 1,185,000 people in the United States who are HIV-positive.

The disease has made an impact in the hip-hop community with the deaths of West Coast rhymesayer Eazy E and X-Clan member Sugar Shaft.

BET, through its Wrap It Up Campaign, has been active in raising awareness about HIV/AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The program, the result of a 1997 BET partnership with Kaiser Family Foundation, also includes special programming, public service advertisements, online content on and a free resource and

referral service.

This week, former president Bill Clinton announced that he has aligned with Cipla Ltd. and Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. in an effort to cut prices

of HIV and AIDS treatment for children while making the drugs more accessible.

Under the agreement, the pharmaceutical companies will supply drugs for HIV-positive children at prices as low as 16 cents a day, or less than $60 a year, according to a statement by the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative. reports the foundation saying that the deal will enable an additional 100,000 HIV-positive children in 62 countries to receive treatment in 2007, the foundation said.

Despite current efforts, Simmons believes the eradication of HIV/AIDs will occur when "much more is done to effectively end poverty in Africa

and throughout the world." "

"The best way to end poverty is through sustainable economic development and empowerment," Simmons said.