Today, December 1st, World AIDS Day, we want to take a moment to reflect, remember, and renew our collective commitment to the fight against the HIV epidemic. Today is also an occasion to recognize each and every person who has become involved in this effort over the past 30 years. We need to honor those we have lost in this long battle, many of whom fought for the lives and rights of others and lost theirs in this epidemic.
On this day we must renew our commitment as a true global community of compassion and care. We must never waver from the fight against HIV and AIDS. We must continue supporting those whose lives are affected by HIV. We must recognize the great challenges that remain ahead.
There are currently over 34 million people living with HIV around the world and 7.6 millions still lack access to treatment. More than 1.8 million people continue to die every year due to AIDS. Approximately 14,000 new infections occur daily around the world with more than 1,000 developing in children under the age of 15.
As the economic crisis has greatly reduced the amount of financial resources directed to the HIV epidemic, and as different levels of government have slashed programs, services, and budgets—a dramatic regression for the HIV community—many non-governmental organizations have been forced to close their doors. Thus, the consequences are already evident in the statistics that show an increase of incidence of people living with HIV.
Moreover, in the international arena, this year we witnessed the cancellation of the 11th round of financing of the Global Fund. It is important to remember that over the last 10 years, the resources from this avenue of financing have effectively changed the history of HIV on the planet. Because of this cancellation, many services will be eliminated; there will be a loss of human capital and the world will witness detrimental effects to all the work done on prevention, treatment, and technical assistance—key elements in the fight against the HIV epidemic.
Today, AID FOR AIDS International calls for governments to assume their responsibilities through a more active role and review their strategic plans and increase their national budgets dedicated to the health sector. We demand that donor nations fulfill their commitments, assumed during the reapportionment meeting that took place in New York this year, to ensure that future financing rounds become a reality.
As a global community we must raise our voices louder and call with more urgency for real, effective action and the renewal of true commitment to this cause. We must continue working hard to make December 1st a day of celebration, commemorating the time when we all first joined together to eradicate an epidemic. This is something that AID FOR AIDS International has stood for since its inception 15 years ago.
We reaffirm that AID FOR AIDS International is an organization committed to universal access to treatment, to effective education on prevention, to the fight against stigma and discrimination, still so prevalent around the world. Most importantly, we are committed to the empowerment of all people affected by this epidemic.
On behalf of the AID FOR AIDS family, I invite you to reflect on this important day and to renew your commitment. A world without AIDS is an achievable goal, only together can we make it a reality.