World AIDS Day has become a time to reflect on the daunting challenges we face in the battle against this tenacious killer. Although huge strides have been made over the past two decades, we are, in many respects, continuing to lose ground as new infections outpace our ability to deliver treatment. Of 33 million people in the world who are HIV positive, only about 4 million are on treatment. Despite nearly a quarter of a century of treatment and research, nearly two million die from AIDS every year (nearly 2 million children under 15 are infected with HIV). The pandemic only gains momentum: nearly three million new cases of the disease occurred this year, and only a small percentage of these patients will receive treatment before they die. World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for all of us – individuals, communities and political leaders – to take action and ensure that human rights are protected and global targets for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care are met.
There are many ways you can take action in response to HIV/AIDS:
- get tested for HIV
- practice safer methods to prevent HIV
- decide not to engage in high risk behaviors
- talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues
- provide support to people living with HIV/AIDS
- get involved with or host an event for World AIDS Day in your community.