World AIDS Day 2010
1/12/2010 - As the world marks World AIDS Day 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon challenges the world to prevent new HIV infections.
Yesterday, in anticipation of World AIDS Day, a joint report was released by multiple UN agencies on issues surrounding children and HIV/AIDS. The report, entitled Children and AIDS: Fifth Stocktaking Report, 2010, was published by UNICEF, UNAIDS, WHO, UNFPA and UNESCO.
Since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were created at the United Nations (UN) Millennium Summit in September 2000, many countries have been successful in bringing down their rates of HIV/AIDS. MDG #6 aims to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases. It is intimately linked to the realization of other goals, including goals to reduce child and maternal mortality rates.
Both new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have come down 20% over the past 30 years, but there are still 10 million HIV-positive people who don’t yet have access to treatment. Also among the success is that targeted investments in social services have helped to reduce inequality in access to education between orphans and non-orphans. Today there are 17.5 million AIDS orphans—14.1 million whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Developing countries have been the most affected by HIV/AIDS, which is linked to inter-generational cycles of poverty. Today, 97% of all new HIV infections occur in low and middle-income countries.
While 1 in 20 young people in southern Africa suffer from HIV/AIDS, the absolute number has fallen from 5.7 million in 2001 to 5 million at the end of last year. Still, without action, AIDS will kill half of all 15-year-olds living in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa by the year 2012.
This year, as the international community marks World Aids Day on December 1st, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon believes that our way forward is utterly clear. Our mission, he says, is to ensure “universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support” for those affected by the pandemic.
With only a month to go in the countdown to 2011, Mr. Ban has issued a bold challenge for the coming decade: “zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.” Bold ideas and strong commitments to making them reality is exactly what is needed.
If the world is to meet Mr. Ban’s “3 Zeroes," tackling and preventing mother-to-child-transmission (MTCT) will prove essential. Every year, 370,000 babies are born HIV-positive. According to yesterday’s Stocktaking Report, women who are in the advanced stages of AIDS are more likely to pass the disease onto their babies.
Even so, optimistic evidence has convinced WHO Director-General Margaret Chan that the elimination of MTCT is very possible. In developing countries, 53% of HIV-positive pregnant women had access to the necessary medication that prevents them from passing on the virus to their children—up from 45% in 2008. Treatment is affordable and effective, yet innovative solutions to improve access to and usage of the treatment will prove essential to ensuring meaningful progress.