World AIDS Day!

This post is a little about baking (4 ingredients worth of baking) and a little about World AIDS Day.  Some days you wear pink ribbons, some days you wear yellow ribbons, and today, people all over the world are wearing red ribbons.

At first, World AIDS Day is a little confusing.  You may have some questions.  How do you “celebrate” it?  Is celebrating even the right word?  Where do I get a red ribbon?  What could Hannah possibly have made that has 4 ingredients?

After living for 5 years with a public and global health brain, I think I’ve figured it out.

1. You do celebrate!  Celebrate things like this:

  • South African president Jacob Zuma is taking a tough stance on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in his nation, breaking from the disturbing tendency of his predecessor to ignore the gravity of the situation in South Africa
  • The number of new HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa has decreased by as much as 25% since the mid-1990s.
  • More and more people in developing countries are gaining access to anti-retroviral therapy drugs, reducing the numbers of AIDS-related deaths and increasing the number of people able to live with the disease.
  • Brazil has offered universal access to anti-retroviral therapy drugs since 1991.  Its success in treating the disease has made it the most successful model of HIV/AIDS epidemic management in the world.
  • By 2007, Botswana (the first country in Africa to implement a national AIDS program) had cut its mother-to-child HIV transmission rates to under 4%.

2. You also commemorate and face the facts:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa, home to only 10% of the world’s population, is also home to 68% of the global population living with HIV/AIDS.
  • By the end of 2009, the HIV/AIDS epidemic had left behind over 16 million AIDS orphans around the world.
  • While new infections and AIDS-related deaths seem to be slightly declining in some parts of the world, eastern Europe and central Asia is still experiencing a rapid expansion of the epidemic.
  • An estimated 2.5 million children were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2009.

Then, by combining your celebration and your commemoration into one you…

  • express gratitude to those nurses, doctors, researchers, social workers, humanitarians, public officials, diplomats, and volunteers who are working to get us to zero new infections, zero stigma, and zero AIDS-related deaths everyday.
  • show your support for those both near and far living with this horrifying disease.  Wear a ribbon.  Send a card.
  • get motivated!  Talk about AIDS.  Make a donation.  Learn about AIDS.  The world is making progress, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

So.  What does this all have to do with baking?  Yesterday, as part of the Global Health Interest Group at school, we sat outside the cafeteria with two posters, free cookies, and red ribbons.  We were asking people to sign the posters we made to thank the staff  and support the patients at our hospital’s HIV clinic.  Today we’re delivering the posters.  In the middle of the lunch hour rush, people are always more likely to stop and see what you’re up to if you have free cookies.  Since we’re also in the middle of crazy major exam time, I made the easiest, most delicious thing I could think of: cake batter cookies.

You put cake mix in a bowl.  You add eggs, melted butter, and vanilla.  You stir.  You make the dough into cookies.  You bake the cookies.  You let all the people who devour the cookies wonder about your secret magic baking tricks.  Or…you post your secret magic baking tricks on the interwebs.

Yeah, it’s cake mix.  But if people love them, who cares?

Cake Batter Cookies

Makes about 20 cookies

1 box cake mix (I used white, but use whatever kind you like)
2 eggs
1/2 cup (= 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Stir together the ingredients.
2. Plop the dough on a greased cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls (or larger if you want).  Refrigerate the dough balls for about 30 minutes.
3. Bake the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes until dry on top.  They may not get light golden.  You don’t want to overbake them!  Let cookies cool on a wire rack.  Frost them if you want.  Watch them disappear.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 2 days.

Add a spoonful of sprinkles to make funfetti cookies!  Add chocolate/peanut butter/butterscotch/etc chips!  Add dried fruit!  Go crazy people.  You can’t possibly mess these up.

Recipe adapted from AllRecipes

Hopefully you learned a little something from this post, besides about the cookies.  Maybe you’re inspired to learn a little more about the epidemic.  Maybe you’re even inspired to take some action!   That would be the coolest 🙂  Thanks for reading, happy baking and red-ribbon wearing!



  1. Have I ever told you how incredible you are? You are a miraculous, magnificent, immeasurably marvelous Masterpiece of morals and morsels (of tasty delight).
    Love, FDL’s Merry Mom

  2. thanks so much for the peanut butter toffee cookies!! my 3 kids inhaled them. They were delicious. this cookie exchange was a lot of fun
    Jill in Washington

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