World AIDS Day 2013

UNAIDS_facebook_ribbonHere’s some good news:

  • Worldwide, new HIV infections have fallen by 33% since 2001. That includes a 52% decline among children.
  • By the end of 2012, around 9.7 million of the 35.3 million people with HIV in low and middle income countries were on treatment
  • AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 30% since 2005
  • Low and middle income countries are increasing their domestic spending on HIV – accounting for 53% of all HIV-related spending
  • Life expectancy for people on treatments is not that much different to anyone else’s.

But there’s also some bad news.

Certain groups are still — at the global level* — disproportionately affected by HIV:

  • women and girls
  • men who have sex with men
  • people who use drugs
  • sex workers

This is mainly because of sexism and stigma. If not for these two scourges of human existence, HIV would be very different.

That’s why Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is launching UNAIDS’ zero discrimination campaign.

Anyone can take steps to end stigma. For example this Ghanaian pastor’s decision to open a testing centre at his London church shows that the church has a role to play in preventing HIV, and thus contradicts the moral judgements that religious people sometimes make about people who have the virus.

And everyone can take steps to prevent HIV transmission, even if only by sharing the Durex World AIDS Day condom campaign #Someonelikeme, so that Durex will donate condoms to HIV services around the world (up to 10 million).

Some people have taken HIV prevention into their own hands. Like Condom Ninja:

or this vlogger:

Because remember, doing away with stigma or preventing HIV, it’s up to you. There is no HIV fairy to magic this disease away, just as there is no STD fairy ….


* In Australia, due to some smart thinking on the part of these communities, and bipartisan support for controversial prevention measures such as needle-exchanges, HIV in Australia is at extremely low levels among sex workers and people who use drugs, and overall the epidemic is comparatively small, with only around 24,000 people currently living with HIV.

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