The 1st of December was the World AIDS Day, and the United Nations officials marked it with a call for building on recent successes and pressing ahead to get to zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths by 2015.
“On this World AIDS Day, let us commit to build on and amplify the encouraging successes of recent years to consign HIV/AIDS to the pages of history,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day.
The World AIDS Day Report for 2012, he noted, reveals significant progress in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS in the past two years. The number of people accessing life-saving treatment rose by 60 per cent and new infections have fallen by half in 25 countries. In addition, AIDS-related deaths have dropped by a quarter since 2005, according to the report, published by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
“We have moved from despair to hope. Far fewer people are dying from AIDS,” said the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé. “Twenty-five countries have reduced new infections by more than 50 per cent. I want these results in every country.
“The pace of progress is quickening. It is unprecedented. What used to take a decade is now being achieved in just 24 months. Now that we know rapid and massive scale up of HIV programmes is possible, we need to do more,” he said in his message for the Day. However, as of December 2011, even if over 100,000 more children were receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) compared to 2010, less than one-third of children and pregnant women were receiving the treatment they needed, as opposed to the global average of 54 per cent for adults overall.
“We must do still more to help mothers and children who live with HIV be able to live free from AIDS. We must rededicate ourselves to boosting the number of pregnant women and children being tested and treated through basic antenatal and child health programmes,” said UNICEF’s Executive Director, Anthony Lake.
Good nutrition is vital for the health and survival of all people, but it is particularly important for people with HIV and AIDS, the Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, said in her message marking the Day.
The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, noted that progress must strengthen the determination to create a world free of AIDS: “HIV and AIDS can be conquered through renewed commitment and sustained solidarity. For this, we need to use every resource as best we can and draw on all available evidence,” she said.
The agency works for the ‘triple zero’ goal by supporting countries to improve HIV and age-appropriate sexuality education for young people, as well as tackling gender inequalities since women and girls are severely affected by HIV and bear the greatest burden of care.
UNAIDS said it has harnessed the energy and creativity of youth and the fashion world in support of the global HIV response, with 11 young designers having joined together to create an exclusive collection of tops and t-shirts for Italian fashion retailer OVS.
Among those participating in the initiative – part of the “Make Love With” campaign, launched by OVS in partnership with UNAIDS – are Lavinia Biagiotti, Rachele Cavalli, Louis Marie de Castelbajac, Maria Sole Ferragamo, Marta Ferri, Alessandra Gucci, Alice Lemoine, Talitha Puri Negri, Lola Toscani, Rocco Toscani and Francesca Versace.