World AIDS Day: Show Support and Be Informed
The World AIDS Day is celebrated globally every 1st of December. The yearly observance was established by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1988 as a way to unite communities to fight against the HIV/AIDS stigma, remember those who died due to AIDS, and to show support for those who are suffering from the disease.
US President Obama has issued a proclamation on Tuesday that recognized the WORLD AIDS DAY and the work that needs to be done in order to have an “AIDS-free generation” after the disease has been discovered some 3 decades ago.
“We have made extraordinary progress in the fight against HIV since that time, but much work remains to be done. On World AIDS Day, we remember those who we have lost to HIV/AIDS, celebrate the triumphs earned through the efforts of scores of advocates and providers, pledge our support for those at risk for or living with HIV, and rededicate our talents and efforts to achieving our goal of an AIDS-free generation,” said President Obama in the proclamation.
Every year, 1.2 million people die worldwide because of HIV — which makes it the 2nd leading cause of death by infection, trailing behind tuberculosis. HIV, that targets the immune system of the body, is often spread through unprotected sex, infected drug needles, or contact with infected blood. Women can pass the disease to their babies through pregnancy and childbirth. When left untreated, it can advance to AIDS in a span of 2-15 years, thereby making people highly susceptible to fatal diseases.
There are approximately 34 million people infected with HIV around the world. Despite the fact that it was only discovered in 1984, there have been over 35 million deaths that were caused by HIV/AIDS, which makes it the most destructive pandemic in history.
There is currently no cure to HIV. A sufferer, however, can take medications every day to help them function normally and minimize the risk of transmission.
Only 15 million people have accessed to anti-retroviral treatments for HIV, according to UNAIDS. The rates for newly-diagnosed individuals have reduced by 35% since 2000, and AIDS-related deaths decreased by 42% since 2004.
In the US, the theme for World AIDS day 2015 is “The Time to Act is Now”.
“The global HIV epidemic requires a coordinated and united response. In 2015, we know what it takes to prevent HIV infections and improve the lives of people living with HIV, and we are building on the success of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR),” Douglas M. Brooks, the Director of Office of National AIDS Policy, wrote in the blog of the White House.
PEPFAR along with the Elton John AIDS Foundation is launching a $10 million initiative that aims to give grants to organizations that acts to provide HIV-related needs to the LGBT community. This includes access to HIV services, as well as movement to eliminate the social stigma of HIV.