World AIDS Day – Dec 1, 2011
This year, “Getting to Zero” is the focus of the 30-year battle againstHIV/AIDS. “Zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths.”
While the goals are high, progress is occurring across several fronts. Worldwide, annual new HIV infections have dropped 15 percent since 2001, and AIDS-related deaths have declined from 2.2 million in 2005 to 1.8 million in 2010.
Yet AIDS remains a formidable concern in the U.S. and abroad for several reasons. Lack of education, continued stigmatization and discrimination, and budgetary constraints, each have contributed to the ongoing spread of the disease. Others contend that declining interest by the general public and news media have also played a major role.
Americans tend to view the issue as an “African” or “overseas” problem rather than a domestic issue. But the disease has had serious consequences in the U.S. Of all industrialized countries, the U.S. has the largest number of people living with HIV – one million. Of those, 200,000 are unaware of their infection, meaning the risk of transmission remains high. Despite the availability of “rapid tests” which often provide results in 24 hours or less, a full third of those going to public testing sites, do not return to obtain their results.
Since the onset of the epidemic, more than a 600,000 people have died of AIDS in the U.S. – equivalent to the entire population of Las Vegas. In 2009 alone, 17,000 people died of the disease.
Around the world, AIDS has been even more devastating – claiming the lives of more than 30 million men, women,and children. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s AIDS patients live in sub-Saharan Africa, where many live in poverty and with limited access to healthcare. Two decades after scientists first thought an AIDS vaccine was in reach, the anti-dote remains elusive and the epidemic continues.
The primary weapon against AIDS is education, according to nearly all involved organizations and medical experts. Raising awareness of transmission risks, providing information about living with AIDS, and educating the next generation will continue to be instrumental in curbing its spread.
To further these objectives, Planet Aid has supported HIV/AIDS projects through HOPE and TCE (Total Control of the Epidemic). In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, India, and China these programs continue to make a daily difference to individuals impacted HIV/AIDS. The programs teach the basics of how the disease is spread, how to avoid infection, and how to make informed choices and change behaviors. In addition, support and care is provided to those already afflicted and their families.
Still much remains to be done in remote villages of Africa and in urban centers around the world, including cities in the U.S. Learn more about how you can make a difference in the struggle against this disease at www.planetaid.org. Learn more about World AIDS Day – Dec. 1 at www.avert.org.See All Blog Posts