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  On December 1 of every year, the world in a bid to show support for people living with HIV and to remember people who passed on due to AIDS-related illnesses commemorates the World AIDS Day. It is a day meant to raise awareness and draw the attention of the globe to the fact that the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) still exists with education on the prevention/control of AIDS.
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A life-threatening condition, AIDS as of 2017 was responsible for the death of between 28.9 million and 41.5 million people. Statistics from UNAIDS shows that in 2019,1.7 million [1.2 million–2.2 million] became newly infected with the virus, 690,000 [500,000–970 000] people died from illnesses that are AIDS-related, while 75.7 million [55.9 million–100 million] caught HIV since the start of the epidemic. However, it is worthy to note that the improved access to antiretroviral treatment in many parts of the globe has seen the death rate from AIDS decreased significantly since its peak in 2005 which saw not less than 1.9 million people lose their lives to the virus, compared to 1 million deaths recorded in 2016. First commemorated on December 1, 1988, and popular as the first-ever international day for global health, the World AIDS Day is accompanied with a new theme each year. This year’s theme ’Global solidarity, shared responsibility,’ aims to raise the attention of the globe towards ensuring that amidst and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, essential HIV services are maintained. Further, the World AIDS Day 2020 seeks to ensure that children, adolescents, and populations most vulnerable to the risks attached to the virus get maximum attention. There is equally need for countries and global actors to ensure health workers are provided with greater support and protection as they carry out their duties in other to have a safe working environment during the pandemic.
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Also, the world on this day pays tribute to communities and countries who have shown resilience and innovativeness in fighting the virus especially innovations spearheaded by carriers of the virus.
‘On World AIDS Day 2020, we pay tribute to the communities and countries who have shown resilience and innovation – often spearheaded by people themselves living with HIV. This is vital, because while we focus on fighting this new pandemic, we must not drop our guard on a twin pandemic that has been with us for 40 years and which is far from over.’ Dr Meg Doherty, (Director of WHO’s Department of Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programmes)
Sources: UNAIDS WHO Featured Image Source: Healthy Newborn Network
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This article was first published on 1st December 2020


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