Laughter is good medicine. It causes endorphins to be released, which are the neurotransmitters with pain-relieving properties (similar to morphine), and it can boost the immune system. Many doctors and healers “prescribe” laughter to patients who are critically ill. While laughter may not cure diseases, it certainly can relieve some of the pain and discomfort associated with an illness.
AIDS is a disease which, since its initial diagnosis, has devastated millions of lives (between 1.7 – 2.4 million estimated AIDS-related deaths as of 2008). The Obama administration has announced $60 million in additional funding to fight AIDS transmission in sub-Saharan Africa, one of the worst hit locations (accounting for an estimated 1.1 – 1.7 million AIDS-related deaths). Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that due to more effective prevention methods, infections were going down and more people are now able to be treated.
In an effort to bring greater awareness to the AIDS epidemic, it was announced today that Ellen DeGeneres, talk show host, comedienne, actress and humanitarian, has been named as “Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness.” Hillary Clinton made the announcement during a speech at the National Institutes of Health. With Ellen’s impressive TV audience (an estimated 2.7 million viewers per episode), 5.8 million Facebook fans, and 8 million Twitter followers, Ellen is an ideal candidate for this auspicious position, being poised to shine the spotlight on the issue of AIDS. And with Ellen’s big heart and gift of humor, she will no doubt bring some compassionate laughter into the lives of some of the many people who have been impacted by this disease, and perhaps healing a little of their pain.