World AIDS Day 2010: The Pope, Kim Kardashian and Elton John?

Elton John, Pope Benedict XVI, Kim Kardashian.
Elton John, Pope Benedict XVI, Kim Kardashian.
Elton John, Pope Benedict XVI, Kim Kardashian. (Getty/Getty/

(CBS) What do the Pope, Kim Kardashian and Elton John have in common? No, it's not the start of a bad joke, it's World AIDS Day 2010.

To raise awareness of the disease, which now affects 33 million people worldwide, John served as guest editor for the British newspaper "The Independent."

His story selection highlighted the scope and scale of HIV infections around the world. Proceeds from today's paper will go to John's AIDS foundation.

Kardashian lent her image to the cause, posing in a coffin as if she were dead. That was for the "Digital Life Sacrifice" campaign. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, Ryan Seacrest, and yes, Kardashian, agreed to kill their Facebook and Twitter accounts until $1 million is raised.

"I'm digitally dying tonight. Please buy my life back! Let's save lives! I will miss you," Kardashian tweeted before virtually perishing.

And in Australia, Bono and band mate, The Edge, got into the mix at a red ribbon ceremony dusted with politicians.

Celebrities supporting AIDS awareness is good, but not new. This year, however, Kardashian and company were joined by someone with even more celebrity and certainly more clout - Pope Benedict XVI.

In November, the Pope said condom use is justified in some limited cases to fight HIV infection - a major break with Catholic doctrine to this point. The Pope specifically referenced male prostitutes. The Vatican later made clear condoms were still off limits for birth control. Also, female prostitutes weren't included.

But for one billion Catholics around the world, many in African countries with high HIV infection rates, the Pope's stance is a big change.

As for the disease itself, news is mixed.

Last week, a new study found a daily drug combination, if taken properly, could reduce the chance of infection by 73 percent in gay men. And according to a United Nations report, HIV infections are down 20 percent over the last 10 years and deaths down 20 percent over the last five.

But another report, estimated of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, 20 percent don't know it because they have not gotten tested.