By Abby Davidson, Humanitas Global
The world comes together on the first of December each year to recognize World Aids Day, a date set aside to recognize those who suffer from HIV/AIDS and to build momentum around awareness on its prevention and treatment.
Since the outbreak of the disease in the 1980s, there has been a whirlwind of activity fighting HIV/AIDS and its effects. The development of treatments which help carriers live longer and happier lives and reduce the risk of transmission, education about how to prevent the spread of the disease, and advocacy for treating carriers with dignity and respect by reducing misconceptions and fears are just a few examples of the noteworthy progress that has been made to put HIV/AIDS on the global agenda.
And these across-the-board efforts have shown to be effective. Since the year 2000, new HIV infections have been reduced by 35% and AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 24%. But despite this progress, the toll the disease continues to take on humanity is staggering, and the heaviest burden is placed on the world’s poor. 37 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, and more than 95% of the infections are in developing countries, where health systems are already struggling to meet needs amongst a number of diseases, poor infrastructure, and low funding. And the effects of the disease are more than a health sector challenge – damage to social morale, human capital, family structure, and many other factors pose a challenge to community and economic development.
The world is ready to see HIV/AIDS come to an end for good. The recently adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals include a target to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, and the UN has developed a Fast Track Approach to ensure rapid progress over the next five years by placing an emphasis on front-load investments, local leadership, critical partnerships, results-driven approaches, and several other focus areas.