Since 1988, the world has gathered together every December 1 to join in showing support for the fight against the global HIV epidemic. On today’s 24th anniversary of World AIDS Day, we here at AID FOR AIDS International (AFAI) would like to once again voice our support for this struggle as well as celebrate how far we have come over the years. We are living in truly exciting times with the dream of an AIDS-free generation in our grasp.
While we look back and celebrate our accomplishments, we also take a moment on this day to reflect on the many lives lost in this struggle and the myriad challenges that lie ahead of us. In spite of all of the advances in treatment in recent years, in 2011 there were still an estimated 34 million adults and children living with HIV across the world. Unsurprisingly, the prevalence rates and the number of AIDS-related deaths are more concentrated in low-income countries and regions of the developing world, where limited resources and government inaction make it more difficult and costly for people with HIV to access treatment and receive adequate care.
Furthermore, studies show that infection rates continue to be concentrated among members of vulnerable populations, such as transgender women, sex workers and their clients, and networks of men who have sex with men (MSM). For example, the latest statistics from UNAIDS reveal that in 2011 the prevalence of HIV was 10% among MSM in at least 12 countries in Latin America. These statistics are startling and unacceptable, since we know that with universal access to treatment and increased education, we have the power to curb the tide of this epidemic.
For this reason, AID FOR AIDS continues to send recycled and unexpired life-saving medication to those who need it most in more than 40 countries worldwide. Over the past year we have been the first responders in zones of conflict, sending shipments of medication to beneficiaries in both Syria and Libya. We are also committed to fighting against stigma and discrimination and to empowering individuals from some of the most vulnerable communities. We believe that through education and empowerment we can build a new generation of leaders that will help us realize the ultimate goal of Zero stigma and discrimination, Zero AIDS-related deaths, and Zero new HIV infections.
Today, we renew our call for governments to take an active role in and increase funding from their national budgets for prevention and treatment services in order to strengthen their healthcare systems. We also invite all of the global community to become actively involved in the response, whether is is through educating yourself and your communities, making financial contributions to AIDS service organizations, or becoming more engaged citizens and agents of social change.
We must continually stress the importance of keeping HIV and AIDS on the agenda as a pressing social matter deserving of our attention and collective efforts. On behalf of all us at AID FOR AIDS International, we invite you to join us in celebrating World AIDS Day and spreading our call to action far and wide. Only together can we make the dream of an AIDS-free generation a reality.