Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, says that this coming AIDS day, December 1st, will be unique in that health care professionals, health authorities and scientists may be able to say with confidence that the end of AIDS really is in sight. Collective international actions have resulted in solid achievements in the fight against AIDS. Despite the global economic crisis which started three years ago, and scarce resources in comparison to what would be realistically needed in the AIDS campaign, millions of of lives have still been saved - results for HIV treatment, prevention and accessibility to medical care have been impressive, Sidibé explained.
Sidibé has thanked world leaders for their pledges; promises he describes as "bold, tangible and realistic." It is crucial that these pledges are delivered in every single nation, every community, and to every individual who needs help.
At last, Sidibé added, world leaders have joined virtually unanimously to strive for a world where no mother dies of AIDS and no child is born with HIV.
In a letter, Sidibé wrote:
"The gulf between treatment and prevention has ended.
Treatment is prevention."
AIDS has come out of isolation and is now part of integrated and holistic health services, Sidibé explained - the gulf between health and AIDS is now much smaller. We are now well on the way for "people-centered health delivery systems"; systems that value, restore and respect human dignity.
With smart investments, making the most of scientific breakthroughs, and respecting human rights, the fight against AIDS is a clear and feasible one, Sidibé said.
"It is why world leaders must fully fund the AIDS response. The global investment target of US$ 22-24 billion is a shared responsibility of all countries, donors and others. Only together can we secure the future and provide greater and long-term dividends.
. . . . on this World AIDS Day, I call upon leaders, communities, parents, people living with HIV and young people to look forward and work towards a world with Zero new HIV infections, Zero discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths."
New HIV infections and AIDS deaths dropAccording to UNAIDS, the numbers of new HIV infections and deaths caused by AIDS have dropped to their lowest levels since 1997 (the peak). Since 2005, the total number of people dying annually from AIDS related illnesses has fallen 21%.
"Even in a very difficult financial crisis, countries are delivering results in the AIDS response. We have seen a massive scale up in access to HIV treatment which has had a dramatic effect on the lives of people everywhere."
WHO (World Health Organization) informs that 6.6 million of the 14.2 million (estimated) individuals from developing countries who are eligible for treatment in 2010 had access to lifesaving antiretroviral therapy - 1.35 million more people than in 2009.
By the end of 2010:
- Between 31.6 and 35.2 million individuals were living with HIV globally
- Between 2.4 and 2.9 million new HIV infections were reported in that year
- There were between 1.6 and 1.9 million died of an AIDS-related illness by the end of that year
Number of people living with HIV by country (estimate). Source: UNAIDS
What is AIDS? What is HIV?AIDS
The acronym AIDS stands for Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.
- Acquired - simply means it is not a hereditary disease, it develops after birth. In this case, from contact with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
- Immunodeficiency - this means the disease weakens the patient's immune system.
- Syndrome - a collection of signs and symptoms that characterize or indicate a disease or condition.
HIV stands for (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) - the virus that causes AIDS. HIV can be passed from human-to-human via:
- Infected blood
- Infected semen
- Vaginal secretions
- Coming into contact with an infected person's broken skin or mucous membrane
- From an infected pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastmilk.
Put simply: HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
Written by Christian Nordqvist