World AIDS Day – “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.”

World AIDS Day was first marked in 1988 and for the last 33 years, it has been observed on December 1st each year. Given the ongoing battle with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fitting that the theme this is year is “End Inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics.”

It has been 40 years since the first AIDS cases were reported, yet HIV still threatens the world. Reducing the spread of AIDS has required a global response including education about preventative measures, as well as, new drug regimens to prevent contraction and to reduce the viral loads of those who are HIV-positive. While there is still no cure for AIDS, all of these measures plus social responsibility have slowed the spread of the disease.

The aggressive spread of COVID-19 requires a similar effort. We are now seeing that inequalities with vaccine distributions literally can impact the entire world allowing new variants of COVID-19 to emerge. That is why organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) remain important. Without a coordinated global response to stop these diseases, isolated approaches will have limited impact on containing the spread.

FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HIV:

  • Globally, 12.6 million people living with HIV still lack access to treatment.
  • An estimated 38 million people are living with HIV.
  • 680,000 people died from AIDS-related causes in 2020.
  • 1,500,000 people were newly infected in 2020.
  • 73% percent of people living with HIV received lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2020.

While the global community has made major strides with HIV prevention and treatment over the past decades, the facts above show that there is still so much more to be done to end the HIV epidemic. On World AIDS Day 2021, let’s show our support for people around the world who are living with HIV and remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. 

Health is a basic human right. We must demand that our governments make investments in healthcare a top priority to insure basic universal health care coverage for everyone to end the spread of illnesses, such as, AIDS and COVID-19. Coming together as a global community unimpeded by geographic boundaries or political affiliation is the only way we will ever defeat these types of diseases. Let’s re-double our efforts!

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