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Every year, 1 December marks the commemoration of the united fight against HIV and AIDS. 'World AIDS Day' has been raising awareness of the epidemic that kills at least 1 million people every year, since 1988. The idea behind the international observance is to expunge the outmoded stigma and to show solidarity to the HIV affected. AIDS and HIV infections are one of the biggest problems of the current world, despite the establishment of enhanced and upgraded preventive measures.
Where Did It Start
The idea of World AIDS Day was initially proposed by James Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public health officials from the World Health Organisation in 1987. Dr Mann, then director of UNAIDS approved the notion and the first-ever World AIDS Day was observedd on 1 December 1988.
Why December 1st
Mr Bunn recommended the date to be 1 December, convinced that it would help get the campaign an extensive coverage by the western news media as the date was a comfortable time after the US elections and before the Christmas holidays. Initially, the theme in focus encircled children and young people, but soon adapted to the overall need for global recognition.
World AIDS Day Theme
The theme for the 2019 observance is "Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Community by Community"/"Communities make the difference". The 2019 theme shines a light on the significant and essential role played the communities in the AIDS response at the international, national and local levels.
Communities contribute to the AIDS response in many different ways, such as through leadership and advocacy where the response remains relevant and grounded, keeping people at the centre and leaving no one behind.
Communities include peer educators, networks of people living with or affected by HIV, such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and sex workers, women and young people, counsellors, community health workers, door-to-door service providers, civil society organizations and grass-roots activists.
Globally, 36.9 million people are living with HIV and 25% are not aware of their own status. The WHO fact sheets reveal that by the end of 2017, 1.8 million people became newly infected by HIV. According to the WHO statistics, out of the 36.9 million people living with HIV 35.1 million [29.6 million-41.7 million] are adults and 1.8 million [1.3 million-2.4 million] are children.
The current situation reveals the significant progress made in the AIDS response, since 1988. As of today, three out of four people living with HIV are aware of their status. 75% [55-92%] of all people living with HIV knew their HIV status in 2017 and about 9.4 million people did not know that they were living with HIV.
By 2017, 21.7 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy - revealing a definite increase in the number of people opting for testing and treatment (an increase of 2.3 million since 2016 and up from 8 million in 2010). This has had a genuine impact on the declining rate of AIDS-related deaths, that is, in 2017, 940, 000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide, compared to the 1.4 million in 2010 and 1.9 million in 2004.
Between 2000 and 2017, there was a 36% fall in new infections and HIV related deaths fell by 38%, and 11.4 million lives were saved due to the therapy. And, 80% [61- >95%] of pregnant women living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy and medicines, preventing the transmission of HIV to the babies.
Significance Of Getting Tested
It is crucial to get tested for HIV but people refrain from getting themselves tested because they always have protected sex, social stigma, denial, and the sexual promiscuity associated with it. The society needs to be educated on the importance of HIV testing as is the central and most essential gateway to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.
Importance Of Prevention
Is there a cure for HIV? No! But, a loyal adherence to the antiretroviral therapy or ART can help reduce and slow down the progression of the virus. The importance of prevention against HIV is on a rise in recent years and some of the most relevant ones are
- Male circumcision
- Diaphragms and other cervical barriers
- HIV 'prevention pills'
- HIV vaccines
- Herpes treatment.