Today is World AIDS Day, an annual event to raise awareness about the AIDS pandemic.
Millions of people are living with AIDS, and HIV continues to spread. Check out these sobering statistics from the World Health Organization, including AIDS deaths last year:
Socioeconomic factors play a huge role in who is exposed to HIV/AIDS and who has negative health risks. While no cure exists, treatment can make it possible to live with the disease. Yet the drugs are expensive and inaccessible to many people. Only 28% of Americans infected with HIV are being treated effectively, according to the CDC. The numbers are much worse in parts of the world where more people have less access to health care – 76% of deaths due to AIDS were in sub-Saharan Africa in 2007.
The good news is we’re seeing progress in research into stopping the disease. Exciting new research shows proper treatment for HIV is 96% effective in reducing transmission. Yet we are seeing funding cuts both to research and treatment and prevention programs worldwide. Cuts that put millions of peoples lives at risk.
Funding is a major issue in the US, too. African Americans and trans folks have higher rates of infection, with factors like income obviously playing a huge role. But there’s never enough money, so the pie gets divided up along identity lines. You may notice the focus of increasingly less visible HIV/AIDS campaigns shifting between different groups, usually African American boys and men or women and girls, depending on who the latest statistics say is most at risk. Which really serves as a distraction from the fact that there’s not enough funding being directed towards this issue to actually end the pandemic and make sure everyone living with the disease receives the treatment they need.
UNAIDS has suggestions for ways to take action on World AIDS Day. It’s also important for us to continue acting by pressuring government and international agencies to take serious, large scale action to end this pandemic.