“Word Echoes from SANZ”: “Countdown to Zero”
Written by Helewise Arends on December 6, 2017
World AIDS DAY, celebrated on the 1st of December, was established in 1988
by the World Health Organisation and aims to raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic.
It is a chance to remind ourselves of how the world changed by a retrovirus
that transcribes itself into human DNA, making it impossible to eradicate after infection.
Treatments have improved lifespans, however the virus is still mutating,
making immunization impossible and the infection still a risk.
More that 35 million people around the world are HIV positive or have AIDS.
This day aims to highlight the importance of education, prevention and pays tribute
to the memory of those who die each year to this deadly disease.
Yes, there have been tremendous successes in treatment, research,
and health outcomes for people since HIV/AIDS was first discovered.
However, HIV/AIDS is still a real public health problem all over the world today.
More than half of the people living with HIV are women.
Young women in Sub-Sahara Africa are 8 times as likely to get infected as young men.
That’s why the fight against HIV/AIDS also means fighting against
gender inequality and in favour of women’s rights.
We have to be active on all fronts in order to stop the spread.
The Achievement: AIDS-related deaths have almost halved since 2005.
The Challenge: 17 million people living with HIV still don’t have access to treatment.
The United Nations Goal: ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
Though HIV management has come a long way,
there are miles to go before we reach the optimum.
People living with HIV and AIDS still face social stigma, which limits their rights,
prevents them from finding peers and defending themselves publicly and collectively.
In April 1987, Princess Diana opened the Uk’s first purpose built HIV/AIDS
unit that exclusively cared for patients infected with the virus.
In front of the worlds media, Princess Diana shook the hand of a man
suffering with the illness, without wearing gloves – challenging the notion that
HIV/AIDS was passed from person to person by touch.
She showed in a single gesture that this was a condition needing
compassion and understanding, not fear and ignorance.
We have to keep up the pressure – the dreams of a world free
from AIDS are no longer just dreams.
We must work tirelessly until 1st December is no longer AIDS Day.
An AIDS free generation starts with our youth and ending HIV stigma.
#SpreadAwareness, Not the Virus.