World AIDS Day is held every year on December 1st as an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those we have lost. The first World AIDS Day was in 1988.
Today there are an estimated 34 million people who have the virus; since it was first identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
But times have changed. Today, scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. And yet despite the advances in treatment and in stopping the stigma of what it means to be HIV+, there are more and more cases of people being diagnosed with HIV.
Many do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others, and the stigma and the discrimination remain a reality for many people living with the condition.
World AIDS Day is important because it reminds the public and the government that HIV has not gone away, and that there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
Take just a minute to talk about AIDS and HIV; fear and ignorance are at the root of HIV … the fear that you may get ‘it,’ may have ‘it,’ may spread ‘it’ … and the ignorance about the treatment and prevention. The times have changed, we’ve come a long way, but there is still work to be done. People are still contracting the virus
Here are some facts about AIDS in 2015:
1. Globally about 36.9 million people are living with HIV including 2.6 million children
2. An estimated 2 million were infected in 2014
3. An estimated 34 million people have died from HIV or AIDS, including 1.2 million in 2014
4. The number of adolescent deaths from AIDS has tripled over the last 15 years
5. AIDS is the number one cause of death among adolescents in Africa and the second among adolescents globally
6. In sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest prevalence, girls account for 7 in 10 new infections among those aged 15-19
7. At start of 2015, 15 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy compared to 1 million in 2001
8. Despite widespread availability of HIV testing, only an estimated 51 percent of people with HIV know their status
9. The global response to HIV has averted 30 million new HIV infections and nearly 8 million deaths since 2000
10. In 2015, Cuba was the first country declared to have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV
The march goes on …