WORLD AIDS DAY: STEMMING THE SCOURGE


World AIDS Day, observed 1st of December each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV i. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007, and an estimated 33 million people worldwide live with HIV as of 2007, 90 percent of this figure are young people between the age range of 15-35 years, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. Africa has the largest number of people living with the virus-more than 30 million.

Despite recent, improved access to anti-retroviral treatment and care in many regions of the world, the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 2 million lives in 2007, of which about 270,000 were children. The concept of a World AIDS Day originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention. Since then, it has been taken up by governments, international organizations and charities around the world.

Started in 1988, experts say World AIDS Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. The day is important in reminding people that HIV remains a front burner issue. However, at a time when stigmatizing people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH) is at its peak in several countries, many organizations are at a loss on what to do to change the scenario because it has been observed that this isolation is a faster killer than the debilitating effects of the illness.

To address the ugly situation, some organizations choose to mount campaigns, seminars and dramas, among others, to ensure that not only those living with the disease think positively about themselves, but also to sensitize the public that the disease is not as contagious as people think. Since the disease is not a ‘respecter of anyone’, some organisations also considered it expedient to intensify efforts by encouraging people to go for voluntary counselling and testing so that they could know their status. These were however the initial challenges the public and some concerned organisations faced.

So far, the campaign against HIV/AIDS has not achieved the desired effects in spite of the billions of dollars spent. It is believed that one of the biggest challenges faced in combating HIV/AIDS, is the lack of information and awareness creating a situation where many sufferers remain unreached, worst still are when reached are uneducated on the proper usage of the drugs

In a quarter of a century since the virus was first detected, 65 million people around the world have contacted HIV, with millions more affected. Africa makes up 2/3 of the total number living with the virus; the Southern region of Africa has the highest rate of new infections.

The impact of the growing numbers—and the millions of children left behind—endanger the development of many regions of the world.

Emmaefe, CONNECTAFRICA

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