Around the world, communities are powerful leaders in the fight against AIDS. People living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV, are critical to delivering HIV care and prevention programs, identifying and removing human rights-related and gender-related barriers to care, and ensuring that no one is left behind.
Community leadership is at the center of the Global Fund partnership. Working together, we have made extraordinary progress in the fight to end AIDS. In countries where the Global Fund invests, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 72% since 2002 and new HIV infections have gone down by 61%. Of the 39 million people living with HIV, 29.8 million are on antiretroviral therapy today – 24.5 million in the countries where the Global Fund invests.
But our fight isn’t over. Today, our progress remains fragile and must be reinforced. New health crises are occurring at increasing frequency, human rights are under attack and health inequities are starkly apparent. This World AIDS Day it is time to get back on track to end AIDS as a public health threat once and for all. By letting communities lead, we can build a truly global approach in the fight against HIV that leaves no one behind.
In a world where those with less power and privilege are often forgotten, the welfare of children stands out. Even though they cannot advocate for themselves, or perhaps because of this, the world hasn’t done enough to stop preventable deaths among children. More than half of these deaths are due to conditions that could be easily prevented or treated through better access to health care and improvements to children’s quality of life.
With another World AIDS Day behind us, we reflect on the nearly 40 million people who have lost their lives to this terrible disease. Yet we should also recognize the extraordinary progress we have made in combatting HIV and AIDS. Since 2002, in countries where the Global Fund invests, AIDS-related deaths are down by 72% and new HIV infections are down 61%.
Dramatic changes have shaped the fight against HIV in the last 20 years. Highly effective antiretroviral therapy existed at the turn of the millennium – but only in rich countries. For people living in low- and middle-income countries – like my home country, South Africa – testing positive for HIV equaled a death sentence. I intimately know the desperation of those days: In 2001, I tested positive for HIV.
Ly Rithy is at home in the cheerful company of her granddaughters, 7-year-old Tiya and 12-year-old Srey Pin. Nestled away from the high-energy hum of the main avenues of the Toul Sangke neighborhood in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Rithy’s home is found at the close of a quiet lane. Rithy laughs easily alongside her granddaughters as she hangs up clean laundry on a line, her dark red hair smoothed back into a ponytail.
Innocent was only 6 years old when his father died from an AIDS-related illness. Soon after the little boy began feeling sick himself. After visiting multiple health centers, Innocent eventually ended up at the Baylor Foundation in Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe, and was put on lifesaving antiretroviral medicines (ARVs).
When Farida Tiemtoré was a 23-year-old student she had big dreams. “I said to myself, ‘Why not create something on the internet to enable people to get the right information?’ Straightaway, the blog let me connect with girls and with female role models. I wanted these role models to share their experience to support other girls and women.”
Across Viet Nam, health workers at every level of care – from national laboratories to village health centers – are overcoming obstacles to beat back HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.
I had been working as a sex worker for almost ten years when, in 2009, a client encouraged me to organize sex workers in our town and fight for our rights. “Together you have power,” he assured me. He made this suggestion after I told him how utterly powerless I felt in the face of the constant abuses sex workers suffered from clients, police, and even healthcare workers.
I have accomplished many goals in my life that fill me with pride. I am an international advocate for Aidsfonds in the Netherlands – promoting the work of The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. I am active in politics, with a focus on advocating for the LGBTQ+ community and the destigmatization for people with HIV.