Equal, global access to treatments needed
On Dec. 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) honored the many people who have died of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Since 1988 WHO has tried to raise awareness of the disease, reduce the amount of new infections, and make access to HIV prevention medication available to everyone in need.
Every year, AIDS organizations worldwide bring attention to the HIV/AIDS “global epidemic,” where they talk about stigma related to HIV/AIDS, inform the public about what HIV and AIDS are, how to prevent it, as well as how to live healthy lives with HIV.
Although there has been significant progress made to control HIV since the AIDS epidemic started in 1981, specific goals for 2020 were not met. Due to conflict, inequality, and negligence for human rights, HIV still remains a global health crisis. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic made it a lot harder to gain access to health care facilities, jeopardizing the lives of many living with HIV and many who are unaware of the fact that they have become infected.
According to WHO, in 2020:
• 680,000 people died of HIV complications.
• 1,500,000 people were newly infected.
• An estimated 37,700,000 people were
accounted for, who are living with HIV.
• 73 percent of people infected with HIV were
receiving Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).
This year’s global theme for World AIDS Day is “End inequalities. End AIDS.” The domestic World AIDS Day theme decided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is “Ending the HIV Epidemic: Equitable Access, Everyone’s Voice”
The WHO is addressing citizens and leaders globally, to gather and challenge the discrepancies that drive HIV/AIDS, in the hope to reach the many people with HIV who are not receiving treatment.
HIV attacks the healthy cells in the body which fight infections, which makes an individual prone to other viral infections. It spreads through contact with certain bodily fluids of a person infected with HIV, especially if they do not take any medication to prevent it from spreading. It is commonly spread through sexual contact without a condom or sharing needles to inject drugs.
If HIV is left untreated it eventually leads to the disease, AIDS. Both diseases are incurable, however, the stage of HIV is treatable with ART which prevents the virus from spreading, and helps one live a long, healthy life. There are also other practices that have proven to be succesful regarding HIV prevention through sexual intercourse or drug use with a needle, such as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
The goal of WHO is to concentrate on countries that don’t have the same resources regarding HIV and AIDS, especially marginalized groups and populations that are at higher risk. They also wish to ensure that everyone has access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care globally.
According to UNAIDS.org, “Economic, social, cultural and legal inequalities must be ended as a matter of urgency if we are to end AIDS by 2030.”
To learn more about World AIDS DAY go to https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-aids-day/world-aids-day-2021 and to learn more about HIV/AIDS visit https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/what-are-hiv-and-aids.