The best way to fight AIDS is to spread awareness about it. It is a gradual process, requiring a planned, step-by-step approach. That is why the World AIDS day campaign adopts a theme for the World AIDS Day that acts as a roadmap towards its larger goal. Leadership, the 2007 and 2008 theme for World AIDS Day, encourages leaders at all levels to stop AIDS. Building on the 2006 theme of accountability, leadership highlights the discrepancy between the commitments that have been made to halt the spread of AIDS, and actions taken to follow them through. Leadership empowers everyone - individuals, organisations, governments - to lead in the response to AIDS.
In 2007, people around the world were encouraged to take the lead to stop AIDS. Campaigns took the shape of marches, leadership discussions, public awareness events and pledges from leaders. These events all helped to put leadership in the spotlight.
In the past, people have offered their leadership: now it is time to deliver. Promises must be kept and people must feel empowered to act.
The year 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of the World AIDS Day. In 1988, health ministers from around the world agreed conceptualised this day so that people could come join hands to draw attention to this dreaded disease and show solidarity for the cause.
While the underlining principle of solidarity and awareness remains the same, there has been a great change in the way we perceive AIDS and the way we respond to it. Whilst many of these changes are positive, this anniversary offers us an opportunity to highlight how much more still needs to be done.
- Leaders in most countries from around the world now acknowledge the threat of AIDS, and many have committed to do something about it. By 2007, nearly all countries had national policies on HIV in place. However, most have not been able to fully implement them and many lack funding allocations.
- Whilst treatment for HIV and AIDS has improved and become more accessible since 1988, there is still a lot of ground to cover. In 2007 only 31 per cent of the infected could get treatment in low- to middle-income countries.
- The awareness about HIV has nearly reached all corners of the globe. Still, the infection rates are 2.7 times the rate of increase in the number of people receiving treatment.
- Even as the number of countries that offer protection to the HIV infected continues to go up, one-third still lack legal protection. Stigma and discrimination continue to be major threats to universal access.
- Human rights violations adversely affect any real action in favour of HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. In many places, there are legal barriers to HIV services for women, adolescents, sex workers, people who use drugs, and men having sex with men. And HIV-related human rights promotions are not prioritised.
Miles to go...
The ultimate goal is to achieve universal access to treatment by 2010. We are now two years away from that goal. We have to develop and implement a package for HIV prevention, treatment and care and aim to come as close as possible to the goal.
To achieve this goal, we need leadership and action, now. Governments must deliver on the promises made. Communities must encourage leadership of its members. Individuals must be empowered to access treatment, know and use methods of prevention against contracting and transmitting HIV. In addition, people must know their rights to take action against stigma and discrimination.
Now, more than ever is the time to lead - empower - deliver.
- Article adapted for Complete Wellbeing by Molly Lepeska
Join the cause
If you want to be a part of the World AIDS Day events here's where you can go
Wake Up Pune campaign, Pune
- When: December 1
- Where: BJ Medical College Grounds
- What: HIV Expo during the day; HIV Rock Concert in the evening.
World AIDS Day, New Delhi
- When: November 30
- Where: Pragati Maidan
- What: A fair and a concert.
There are many other ways to get involved in the cause. Contact your local AIDS organisations to find out what's happening in your area.
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