By Elves Kimutai
“Aids epidemic within generations will be won and ended if calls for antiretroviral therapy will be intensified to all people living with HIV,”says the World Health Organization (WHO) as they mark December 1st ; a day recognized globally as World AIDS Day.
Despite the virus only being identified in 1984, more than 35 million people have died of HIV or AIDS, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. Today, there are an estimated 34 million people who have contracted the virus.
1st December date was set aside as an opportunity to show support
to and solidarity with the millions of people living with HIV and also by wearing a red ribbon which is one simple way to give them support.
With this year theme dubbed “Getting to zero; end Aids by 2030,” HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives a year, according to WHO, even though new HIV infections have fallen by 35 percent while AIDS-related deaths by 24 percent since 2000.
Scientific progress made in HIV treatment so far has seen immense improvement in curbing the disease because it has become easy for medics to understand more about the virus as well as the formation of laws to protect people living with HIV.
“The Millennium Development Goal of reversing the HIV epidemic was reached ahead of the 2015 deadline; an incredible achievement that testifies to the power of national action and international solidarity,” WHO director general Margaret Chan said.
Chan said research done by UNAIDS indicates that about 54 percent of people who are infected with HIV don’t know it; often because they do not have access to testing. “When people know their status,” according to UNAIDS, “they are more likely to seek treatment.”
In June, about 15.8 million people out of a total of 37 million people living with HIV were taking the drugs with the report showing young people been heavily affected by HIV globally compared to the old persons.
The WHO established the annual observance in 1988 as a way to offer communities the chance to unite to fight against the HIV/AIDS stigma, commemorate those who have lost the battle with AIDS, and also show support for those who are living with the disease
Tens of thousands of individuals and community groups from across the globe take part in events to mark World Aids Day each year. The activities are also aimed at creating awareness about HIV, on how it is transmitted and how it is not.
The observances also educate about social stigma against people living with HIV as well as for showing support to those who have the virus. A host of events are line up for the full week to mark World Aids Day around the world.