Dec 1 is World AIDS Day. The theme for this year is ‘Saving Lives through Leadership and Partnerships’.
This is the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day and it encourages everyone to ‘Know your Status’. Since 1988, much progress has been made in AIDS response though there is much left to be done even now. HIV testing is essential for expanding treatment and in ensuring that those with HIV lead healthy and productive lives. It is crucial to empowering people to make choices about HIV prevention so that they can be protected against it.
Unfortunately many barriers continue to HIV testing. Stigma, fear and discrimination are the most common reasons for staying away from testing. Sadly enough most patients get tested only after they are ill and symptomatic. This has to change. World AIDS Day helps in a big way to focus on the need to spread awareness of about it and to emphasise the need to get tested.
Since 1988 when the day was assigned specially as AIDS Day, every year UN agencies, governments and civil society have joined together to campaign for specific themes related to AIDS and create awareness in society. It is an opportunity to fight against HIV and to express their support for those afflicted by it. It is also a day for commemorating those who have succumbed to it.
Globally it is estimated that 34 million people have the virus. Though the virus was discovered only in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS thus making it the most destructive disease in history. This day is a reminder that HIV is still around. It is a vital reminder to both the government and the public that much needs to be done and that we need to raise awareness, collect funds fight prejudice and improve education all around.
According to an UNICEF report the highest number of young people affected with HIV is in South Asia. There are 1,20,000 children, adolescents aged 0-19 living with HIV in 2017 in India. Prevention of transmission is crucial to containing the disease.
In Pakistan, 5800 children, In Nepal 1600 and in Bangladesh less than 1000 children have HIV. Globally there has been a 35% decline recorded in the number of children below 5 years who have been diagnosed with HIV.
The current trends reflect that AIDS related deaths are definitely slowing, but the decline is not fast. UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore said, ‘Without a shadow of doubt, the world is off track when it comes to ending AIDS among children and adolescents by 2030.’