Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day, a time for reflection: on what we have achieved with regard to the response to HIV, and what we still must achieve.
This year’s World AIDS Day comes in the midst of another global epidemic: the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The public health response to these epidemics is linked. The COVID-19 pandemic is threatening access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care. And without strategies to meet these needs, we may see a resurgence of HIV that would threaten our public health response to COVID-19.
Testing is an essential part of the HIV cascade of care. People living with HIV can only be linked to treatment, care and support services if they have been diagnosed. Once a person is diagnosed, effective treatment will enable them to live a long and healthy life, to have HIV-negative children, and not have to worry about passing on HIV to their sex partners. People who test negative and are at ongoing risk for HIV should be linked to prevention, harm reduction and other services as necessary.
This year the theme of World AIDS Day is “Global solidarity, shared responsibility”.
Each year, on World AIDS Day, organizations and individuals across the world bring attention to the HIV epidemic, endeavor to increase HIV awareness and knowledge, speak out against HIV stigma, and call for an increased response to move toward Ending the HIV epidemic.
Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day is a day we unite to show support for people living with HIV and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.
World AIDS Day remains as relevant today as it’s always been, reminding us that HIV has not gone away. There is still a critical need for increased funding for the AIDS response, to increase awareness of the impact of HIV on people’s lives, to end stigma and discrimination and to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV.
Again, let’s not forget that HIV has not gone away; it is still very much with us and needs our attention, resources and management.
The struggle against HIV continues!
Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali