Every year on 1 December the world takes the time to commemorate the devastating impact of HIV and AIDS, to support those living with the disease, and to remember those who lost their lives in the fight against the virus.
But it is also a time to share hope. Thirty-one years into the epidemic, there are many causes for hope.
Access to antiretrovirals – the only effective treatment – is becoming easier every day, even in the least-developed countries. It is estimated that at least 8 million people in low- and middle-income countries are currently receiving HIV treatment, 4.2 million of them through programs supported by the Global Fund.
The number of people dying of AIDS-related causes fell to 1.7 million in 2011, down from a peak of 2.2 million in the mid-2000s; in 2012 alone 700,000 AIDS related deaths were averted. For more information about the state of the AIDS epidemic, read the UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2012.
While there were 2.5 million new HIV infections in 2011, 25 countries have seen the number of new infections drop by 50 percent or more. And many of the new infections averted are among children. Thanks to the Global Fund, to date 1.7 million women have received treatment to prevent the transmission of the virus to their unborn children.
We know that putting a person on treatment as soon as they are diagnosed can reduce their chances of transmitting HIV by 90 percent.
We are within reach of an HIV-free generation.
To see how the Global Fund is supporting the fight against AIDS, click here.
But challenges remain. Existing prevention efforts, while expanding, are still insufficient in many parts of the world. And while treatment is becoming ever more widespread, there are still 7 million people eligible for treatment who are not yet receiving it. And the funding needed for continuing and scaling up programs remains difficult.
And so we continue to commemorate this day.
In honor of Worlds AIDS Day 2012, Access to Life, the renowned photographic exhibition, opened at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia and will continue through May 2013. Access to Life, which was created in partnership with leading photo agency Magnum, coincides with the 30th anniversary of the first reported case of HIV in Australia. The exhibit chronicles the impact that access to treatment has on the lives, families and communities of those living with HIV – restoring hope where once there was only fear.
Also in Australia, the Sydney Opera House was lit in red on the evenings of 29 and 30 November to mark World AIDS Day.
To succeed, we must continue to invest in health, invest in saving lives. And we will continue to work closely with partners around the world to make this happen.
Here are some links to the work being done by our partners in the fight against AIDS:
Each year on December 1 we observe World AIDS Day as an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with the virus, and remember people who've died. On World AIDS Day, a Call to Action
In commemoration of World AIDS Day, the Global Fund share the milestones achieved by countries with Global Fund support. Because together we can do great things (in English).
DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES
UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2012
The Beginning of the End? Tracking Global Commitments on AIDS
How AIDS Ends: An Anthology from San Francisco AIDS Foundation
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