WORLD AIDS DAY 2011
World AIDS Day 1 December 1988 was the first ever global health day and has since provided an opportunity for people all over the world to unite on the 1 Dec each year to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. It is also a reminder to us all to learn the facts about HIV&AIDS and to put our knowledge into action. Although it is a great opportunity to get the public talking about HIV and to fundraise, we need to remember the importance of raising awareness of HIV all year round.
In 2011 the decision to go with the millennium development related goal of "Getting to Zero" comes after extensive discussions among people living with HIV, health activists, broader civil society and many others - more than a hundred organisations in all.
Says World AIDS Campaign Africa Director, Linda Mafu. "Our organisation will focus on Zero AIDS Related Deaths, but the choice is there for others to pick a different zero or all three."
The World AIDS Campaign focus on "Zero AIDS Related Deaths" signifies a push towards greater access to treatment for all; a call for governments to act now. A demand they honour promises like the Abuja declaration and that African Governments at very least hit agreed targets for domestic spending on health and HIV in support of the human right to the best attainable level of health care for all.
"Decision makers need to understand that people living with HIV, the marginalized, the dispossessed - all of us - want our rights." Linda Mafu adds. "I can see all sort of events on World AIDS Day. For example, marches that end in Light for Rights type actions outside Finance Ministries where beams of torchlight shine on buildings where under spending on HIV and health cost thousands of lives.
She adds "Zero New HIV Infections" and "Zero Discrimination" are equally as likely to spark high impact events from small scale community vigils to nationwide events using the universally recognised shape of zeros and the power of light to get life and death issues the attention they deserve.
Giving regions, countries and constituencies the latitude to focus on one or all of the Zeros that is most relevant to their context was central to the WAC's decision, an approach fully supported by UNAIDS. "Getting to Zero is the overall agenda for responding to HIV in the next five years, but the priority may be zero discrimination in some parts of the world and zero AIDS related deaths in some other parts—it's important to keep this connection with the local realities" said Djibril Diallo, Director of Global Outreach at UNAIDS.
This year's World AIDS Day is anticipated to see renewed activism from the civil society as 1st December 2011 falls only 6 months before the International AIDS Conference taking place in Washington DC. This year also marks the 30th year since AIDS was first reported.
10 goals for 2015 are:
- Sexual transmission of HIV reduced by half, including among young people, men who have sex with men and transmission in the context of sex work.
- Vertical transmission of HIV eliminated and AIDS-related maternal deaths reduced by half.
- All new HIV infections prevented among people who use drugs.
- Universal access to antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV who are eligible for treatment.
- TB deaths among people living with HIV reduced by half.
- All people living with HIV and households affected by HIV are addressed in all national social protection strategies and have access to essential care and support.
- Countries with punitive laws and practises around HIV transmission, sex work, drug use or homosexuality that block effective responses reduced by half.
- HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence eliminated in half of the countries that have such restrictions.
- HIV-specific needs of women and girls are addressed in at least half of all national HIV responses.
- Zero tolerance for gender-based violence.
Information courtesy of UNAIDS feature Story, 1 Nov 2011 and www.hiv911.org.za