On 1st December of every year, people around the world join hands in commemoration of World AIDS Day. They unite to show their support for people living with and affected by HIV and to remember the lives lost to HIV- related illnesses. World AIDS Day is an opportunity for all people around the world to unite in fighting against HIV. It was started in 1988 as the first-ever global health day. Forty years since the reporting of the first AIDS cases, HIV continues to be a threat to the world as it is a major public health issue affecting millions of people globally.
Today, the world is not on track to deliver on the shared dedication to end AIDS by 2030. This is not because of a lack of knowledge or tools to beat the disease, but due to structural inequalities that barricade proven solutions to the prevention and treatment of HIV.
Unequal, unprepared, under threat
UNAIDS issued a harsh warning that if world leaders fail to address inequalities over the next 10 years, the world could face 7.7 million deaths related to AIDS. UNAIDS further warns that upon failure to take the transformative measures required to end AIDS, the world will also remain trapped in the COVID-19 crisis and hence dangerously unprepared for future pandemics. This warning comes in a new report by UNAIDS called Unequal, unprepared, under threat: why bold action against inequalities is needed to end AIDS, stop COVID-19, and prepare for future pandemics.
The Theme of World AIDS Day 2021
Although there has been significant progress pertaining to AIDS in recent decades, important global targets for the year 2020 were not met. Among the failures that allowed this deadly disease to remain a global health crisis, disparity, division, and disregard for human rights top the list. Now, COVID-19 is aggravating inequities and service disruptions, making life more challenging for many people living with HIV. The theme of this year’s World AIDS Day is “End inequalities. End AIDS”, which will focus on reaching the people left behind. WHO and its partners are spotlighting the growing inequalities in accessing essential HIV services.
The Significance of World AIDS Day
- World AIDS Day brings together people from all over the world to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS.
- People around the world get to express international solidarity in the face of the pandemic.
- This day is an opportunity for private and public partners to raise awareness regarding the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS as well as caring for HIV/AIDS patients around the world
- It is one of the most widely acknowledged international health days and a key opportunity to commemorate those who have died due to it.
- It celebrates victories in the world such as increased prevention services and access to treatment.
On this World AIDS Day, UNAIDS is focusing on the urgent need to put an end to the inequalities that drive AIDS and other pandemics in the world. Failure to take bold action against these inequalities puts the world at risk of missing the targets to end AIDS by 2030, as well as an unending COVID-19 pandemic and a rapidly increasing economic and social crisis. Economic, cultural, social, and legal inequalities must be urgently put to an end if we are to achieve the target to end AIDS by 2030.
Although there is a notion that we cannot prioritize addressing the underlying social injustices during a crisis, it is evident that if we fail to do so, we cannot overcome it. Tackling inequalities is a long-term global promise whose urgency has only increased. In 2015, all countries around the world vowed to reduce inequalities within and between themselves as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Global AIDS Strategy 2021–2026: End Inequalities, End AIDS as well as the Political Declaration on AIDS which was adopted at the 2021 United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS both focus mainly on ending inequalities.
WHO is urging global citizens and leaders to rally in addressing the inequalities that drive AIDS and reaching people who currently have no access to essential HIV services. To commemorate the day, join the UNAIDS and WHO online event End inequalities. End AIDS. End Pandemics. Wear a red t-shirt and light a candle in commemoration of this very special World AIDS Day. Happy World AIDS Day to you!