2007 – Stop AIDS; Keep the Promise – Leadership
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.2 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. In 2007 alone, there were an estimated 2.1 million deaths globally and an estimated 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35. 3
Started on December 1, 1988 at the World Summit of Ministers of Health, World AIDS Day is not just about raising money, but also about fighting prejudice, improving health care, and increasing HIV/AIDS education programs. By raising awareness and educating people on the realities of HIV/AIDS we can overcome the stigma experienced by many people living with this disease.
We need to pressure our politicians to focus on this global plight and grant people living with HIV/AIDS universal access to treatment and financial assistance. Our current Conservative government is faltering in it’s obligation of helping to alleviate society of this pandemic by recently slashing Federal funding from community AIDS programs in Ontario by 30 per cent, a trend that may extend to other provinces during their future funding cycles. 4
HIV/AIDS is a global problem, with around 95% of people with HIV/AIDS living in developing nations. AIDS is among the leading causes of death globally and remains the primary cause of death in Africa. With an estimated 12 million AIDS orphans in Africa, an entire generation of children have been left to fend for themselves. And in West Africa, where rates of infection are highest, abstinence-based programs have limited the availability of condoms to those most at risk.
Although an HIV vaccine remains far out of reach, there has been progress in increasing the effectiveness of drugs that exist today. However, these new drugs have reduced the sense of panic, which has led to an increase in complacency. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV/AIDS has not gone away, and that there is still a great deal of work ahead of us to combat the spread of this disease. We need to improve funding for research, deliver widespread programs on appropriate prevention, increase aid to the developing world, provide hassle-free and anonymous health care services, and run nation-wide information campaigns to combat the stigma people living with HIV/AIDS face.
(1) Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a collection of symptoms and infections resulting from the specific damage to the immune system caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
(2) Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections.
(3) AIDS Epidemic Update. Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
(4) Ottawa Redirects AIDS funds for Gates Initiative. The Globe and Mail. (November 29, 2007), A1.