Saturday December 1st is World AIDS Day which will be marking its 30th anniversary. This day unites people worldwide in the fight against HIV. It is an opportunity to commemorate the people who have died from AIDS-related illnesses and to show support to the people living with the virus.
The day was created after health ministers around the world agreed that there was a need to highlight the enormity of the HIV pandemic including, the responsibilities to universal treatments, support and care for the people living with HIV and AIDS.
This year’s theme for World AIDS day is “Know your status”
According to UNAIDS, there is an estimated 36.7 million people living with the virus globally, 2.1 million of which are children under 15. In 2016, 1.8 million people were newly infected. Also 1 million people died from AIDS-related causes.
Today 3 in 4 people living with HIV know their status. Although, notable progress has been made since the AIDS pandemic in 1988, there is still much work to be done according to the latest UNAIDS report. There is still no cure and many people who are living with, or at risk for HIV do not have access to the necessary treatment: most people living with HIV are in poorer countries.
Mother-to-child transmissions have decreased from the progress that has been made and pregnant women receiving ART increased to 76% in 2016 from 47 percent in 2010.
Unfortunately, there are many obstacles when it comes to HIV testing. People are deterred from taking an HIV test because of the stigma and discrimination. Often people only get tested when they become symptomatic and ill.
World Aids Day is imperative because it reminds the government and the public that HIV is still around and there is still a critical need to raise money and awareness.
As individuals and as a community there is plenty that can be done in relation to HIV. We can support people by fighting against the prejudice and improve education by encouraging people to understand how HIV is transmitted.
To show solidarity with the millions of people who have HIV, you can wear a red ribbon, the symbol of support and awareness.