World Aids Day has been held on 1 December every year since 1988. It is dedicated to raising awareness of the disease caused by the spread of HIV. Since it was launched, a tremendous amount of progress has been made in reducing the stigma still faced by many, and the number of people dying from Aids-related illnesses since the first cases was reported.
The theme of this year’s event is Hands up for HIV Prevention. The campaign looks at ways to improve prevention strategies, identifying key areas among specific groups of people who are vulnerable to transmission – adolescent girls and young women in particular.
In a statement ahead of World Aids Day 2016, Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, said the world has committed to end the ongoing epidemic by 2030 and countries are increasingly working to stop transmission between mother and baby.
We are winning against the Aids epidemic, but we are not seeing progress everywhere,” Sidibé said. “The number of new HIV infections is not declining among adults, with young women particularly at risk of becoming infected with HIV.
Co-infections of people living with HIV, such as tuberculosis (TB), cervical cancer and hepatitis C, are at risk of putting the 2020 target of fewer than 500 000 AIDS-related deaths out of reach … Taking AIDS out of isolation remains an imperative if the world is to reach the 2020 target, he said, adding that “We know that for girls in sub-Saharan Africa, the transition to adulthood is a particularly dangerous time. Young women are facing a triple threat: a high risk of HIV infection, low rates of HIV testing and poor adherence to HIV treatment,”
Facts about Aids in 2016
- Since the start of the epidemic, 78 million people have been diagnosed with HIV
- An estimated 35 million people have died from Aids-related illnesses since it began
- 1.1 million people died from Aids-related illnesses last year. 40 000 of these were children
- By June 2016, 18.2 million people had access to antiretroviral therapy
- Western and central Africa are current of concern areas – they account for 18% of people living with HIV. Lack of treatment access means the area also accounts for 30% of all Aids-related deaths globally
- Adult men are far less likely to know their HIV status and treatment access than women
- Antiretroviral therapy has increased lifespans – in high income countries 31% of people living with HIV are now over the age of 50
- By the end of 2015, 36.7 million people were living with HIV. 2.1 million were diagnosed that year.