What is World AIDS Day?
World AIDS Day is a day dedicated by the international community to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, to demonstrate support for those living with HIV or AIDS, and to remember those who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV/AIDS has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.
Held annually, UDiON Foundation has played its part in this global commemoration since 2010 with events in both USA and Bangladesh and massive communication on social media to bring awareness.
WHAT IS HIV?
To understand what HIV is, let’s break it down:
H – Human – This particular virus can only infect human beings.
I – Immunodeficiency – HIV weakens your immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. A “deficient” immune system can’t protect you.
V – Virus – A virus can only reproduce itself by taking over a cell in the body of its host.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a lot like other viruses, including those that cause the “flu” or the common cold. But there is an important difference – over time, your immune system can clear most viruses out of your body. That isn’t the case with HIV – the human immune system can’t seem to get rid of it. Scientists are still trying to figure out why.
We know that HIV can hide for long periods of time in the cells of your body and that it attacks a key part of your immune system – your T-cells or CD4 cells. Your body has to have these cells to fight infections and disease, but HIV invades them, uses them to make more copies of itself, and then destroys them.
Over time, HIV can destroy so many of your CD4 cells that your body can’t fight infections and diseases anymore. When that happens, HIV infection can lead to AIDS.
WHAT IS AIDS?
To understand what AIDS is, let’s break it down:
A – Acquired – AIDS is not something you inherit from your parents. You acquire AIDS after birth.
I – Immuno – Your body’s immune system includes all the organs and cells that work to fight off infection or disease.
D – Deficiency – You get AIDS when your immune system is “deficient,” or isn’t working the way it should.
S – Syndrome – A syndrome is a collection of symptoms and signs of disease. AIDS is a syndrome, rather than a single disease, because it is a complex illness with a wide range of complications and symptoms.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is the final stage of HIV infection. People at this stage of HIV disease have badly damaged immune systems, which put them at risk for opportunistic infections (OIs).
You will be diagnosed with AIDS if you have one or more specific OIs, certain cancers, or a very low number of CD4 cells. If you have AIDS, you will need medical intervention and treatment to prevent death.
Why is World AIDS Day important?
Recent statistics shows globally an estimated 34 million individual living with HIV/AIDS. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2010 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.
Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV/AIDS treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV/AIDS and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV/AIDS, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Global HIV/AIDS Statistics
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has become one of the world’s most serious health and development challenges:
- 4 millions are currently living with HIV/AIDS.
- More than 25 million people have died of AIDS worldwide since the first cases were reported in 1981.
- In 2008, 2 million people died due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.7 million were newly infected.
- While cases have been reported in all regions of the world, almost all those living with HIV (97%) reside in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most people living with HIV or at risk for HIV do not have access to prevention, care, and treatment, and there is still no cure.
- The HIV epidemic not only affects the health of individuals, it impacts households, communities, and the development and economic growth of nations. Many of the countries hardest hit by HIV also suffer from other infectious diseases, food insecurity, and other serious problems.
- Despite these challenges, there have been successes and promising signs. New global efforts have been mounted to address the epidemic, particularly in the last decade. Prevention has helped to reduce HIV prevalence rates in a small but growing number of countries and new HIV infections are believed to be on the decline. In addition, the number of people with HIV receiving treatment in resource poor countries has increased 10-fold since 2002, reaching an estimated 4 million by 2008.
HIV/AIDS in USA
It has been more than 30 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported in the U.S. HIV is still a reality for more than a million Americans.
- More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 5 (18.1%) are unaware of their infection
- Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM),1 particularly young black/African American MSM, are most seriously affected by HIV.
- By race, blacks/African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV.
“The stigma associated with HIV remains extremely high and fear of discrimination causes some Americans to avoid learning their HIV status, disclosing their status, or accessing medical care.”
You and your community can help reduce stigma and promote HIV testing by putting a face to AIDS for World AIDS Day and beyond.
Supporting the Strategy
- Discuss what your agency or organization can do in new or different ways to better serve your constituents and align your efforts with the Strategy.
- Participate in state and local discussions about how HIV prevention, care and treatment efforts can be fine-tuned to better serve vulnerable populations and contribute to realizing the Strategy’s goals.
- Engage new partners in HIV prevention, care, treatment and stigma-reduction efforts to strengthen our collective and reach more people.
UDiONAIDS strategy aims to advance global progress in achieving country set targets for universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support and to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development goals.
Adopted by the Program Coordinating Board in December 2010, the strategy works to position the HIV response in the new global environment. The AIDS response is a long term investment and the intent of the strategy is to revolutionize HIV prevention, catalyze the next phase of treatment, care and support, and advance human rights and gender equality.
UDiONAIDS strategy goals:
- Sexual transmission of HIV reduced by half, including among young people, men who have sex with men and transmission in the context of sex work
- Vertical transmission of HIV eliminated, and AIDS-related maternal mortality reduced by half
- All new HIV infections prevented among people who use drugs
- Universal access to antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV who are eligible for treatment
- TB deaths among people living with HIV reduced by half
- People living with HIV and households affected by HIV are addressed in all national social protection strategies and have access to essential care and support
- Countries with punitive laws and practices around HIV transmission, sex work, drug use or homosexuality that block effective responses reduced by half
- HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence eliminated in half of the countries that have such restrictions
- HIV-specific needs of women and girls are addressed in at least half of all national HIV responses
- Zero tolerance for gender-based violence
UDiONAIDS strategy is a roadmap for the Joint Program with concrete goals marking milestones on the path to achieving UDiONAIDS vision of “Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”
The strategy will be underpinned by a new Unified budget and accountability framework. The framework will operationalize the strategy, mobilize and allocate resources for its implementation, measure progress and report on results.
- World AIDS Day – December 1
- National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – Feb 7
- National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – March 10
- National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – March 20
- HIV Vaccine Awareness Day – May 18
- National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – May 19
- Hepatitis Testing Day – May 19
- Caribbean American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – June 8
- National HIV Testing Day – June 27
- National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day – September 18
- National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day – September 27
- National Latino AIDS Awareness Day – October 15