Gay campaigners in the US are urging people to support local AIDS organisations and to make sure political representatives push for funding and support.

Today is World AIDS Day, and 2006 marks the 25th anniversary of the very first report of an HIV/AIDS case in the US by the Centre for Disease Control.

On this anniversary, Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organisation, has called on the country to fight complacency and recommit to fighting HIV/AIDS in their communities.

He said: “Today, there are 40 million people throughout the world living with HIV.

This is an epidemic caused by a virus, yet it is fuelled by ignorance, prejudice and homophobia.

“We are in the 25th year, yet Congress has not re-authorised the Ryan White CARE Act, which delivers critical care, prevention and comfort. We are in the 25th year, yet too many of us have walked away from this battle.

More than half of all Americans who received an HIV/AIDS diagnosis in 2004 were men who had sex with men, according to a poll from the Centre for Disease Control.

The research also found that the number of HIV diagnoses for men who had sex with men decreased during the 1980s and 1990s, but recent data showed an increase in HIV diagnoses for this group more recenlty.

Mr Solmonese added, “On World AIDS Day, I urge to you to recommit yourself to HIV and AIDS, to support your local AIDS organisations, to hold your elected officials responsible for funding and supporting people living with HIV and AIDS.

“We need better messaging to reach young people. To reach African-American gay men, who are disproportionately infected. To engage more of us in this battle.

“Twenty-five years later, we still can win. But only if all of us stay in this very important fight. It’s up to all of us to make AIDS a thing of the past. Let’s come together and stop the spread of HIV and end prejudice.”