HIV and AIDS is a global health issue and sadly people infected with the virus also face discrimination. We urge people to be aware of the facts and challenge their perceptions.
An estimated 34 million people are currently living with HIV worldwide. Although more people than ever are living with the virus, this is because life-saving treatments are helping to reduce AIDS-related deaths. The overall number of new infections is actually continuing to fall.
According to the UNAIDS World Aids Day Report, there were 2.7 million new HIV infections in 2010, (including an estimated 390,000 in children), which is a decrease of 15% compared to 2001, and 21% less than the epidemic peak in 1997.
While this is welcoming news, the UNAIDS vision is to have the figure of new infections and deaths reduced to zero. They also want to completely eliminate discrimination against those who already have the virus.
Members of the community who are HIV-positive are far too often stigmatised and ostracised by their communities, and in Uganda we are working hard to change this. Through our sensitisation workshops we use drama and music to help educate people about HIV, and on a market day we are delighted to be attracting between 200-800 members of the community to attend.
Music and drama is a fun way to not only heighten awareness and challenge prejudices, but it also gives people the confidence to address these issues together. Through these workshops we are proud to have seen healthier relationships forming within the community.
So, on this World Aids Day, we urge people to remember that although infection rates may be decreasing overall, there is still a major problem in eliminating HIV altogether and the prejudices that accompany it. We need to be aware of HIV facts and be more understanding towards those affected.
Some HIV facts:
– An estimated 34 million people worldwide are currently living with HIV.
– Over 90,000 people in the UK are currently living with HIV.
– 69% of all HIV infected people live in the Sub-Sahara region (1 in 20 adults).
– HIV is still a major global health issue.
– HIV targets the immune system and weakens it.
– You can now get tested through a saliva sample.
– About 25 million people have died from the virus to date.
– There is still no vaccine or cure for HIV and AIDS.