Today is World HIV AIDS day and if the Three Wise Men were to arrive this Christmas, then I hope one of them would bring a cure for this terrible scourge and donate the Patent and Intellectual Property Rights to all humanity!
Here are some figures from UNAIDS from Nov 2010 and refer to the year 2009.
|People living with HIV/AIDS in 2009||33.3 million||31.4-35.3 million|
|Adults living with HIV/AIDS in 2009||30.8 million||29.2-32.6 million|
|Women living with HIV/AIDS in 2009||15.9 million||14.8-17.2 million|
|Children living with HIV/AIDS in 2009||2.5 million||1.6-3.4 million|
|People newly infected with HIV in 2009||2.6 million||2.3-2.8 million|
|Adults newly infected with HIV in 2009||2.2 million||2.0-2.4 million|
|AIDS deaths in 2009||1.8 million||1.6-2.1 million|
|Orphans (0-17) due to AIDS in 2009||16.6 million||14.4-18.8 million|
At the end of 2009, women accounted for just over half of all adults living with HIV worldwide.
Although the number of cases has "stabilized" over the past few years, there is still an awesome challenge ahead to treat, manage and recover from this global devastation. For every case reported, several other people are affected by the disease. In Africa, if the HIV patient is the mother or father, then the whole family faces severe economic hardship, if not starvation. So when we talk of 33 million people with HIV, then we must extrapolate that to say that over 100 million people SUFFER from the effects of HIV AIDS.
And it isn't just a simple fact of finding the right treatment, and hey presto, everything in the garden will be rosey. A report from the US suggests that "Only 28% of people infected with HIV in the United States have achieved viral suppression"according to a report from the CDC. One of the reasons behind these bleak figures is that 1 in 5 HIV sufferers don't even realize that they carry the infection, and of those who are aware, only 51% are receiving ongoing medical care. If that is the situation in a country with "first world" Hospitals and Health Care, what chance for those in Sub Saharan Africa?
Most of you who read this will wonder "what can I do to make a difference, because where I live, I've never met anyone with HIV, so it doesn't really affect my life?" And you're right, it does seem hard to effect a change on a world scale, but perhaps what we can do to begin with is to be compassionate. Just by talking about HIV in a compassionate way amongst your friends and colleagues will help alter attitudes because 3 million children live with AIDS and there are over 16 million orphans as a result of AIDS, and they need help. The second thing to remember is that every small donation to an accredited HIV AIDS organization will help effect change: maybe not immediately, but with increasing awareness and support, the future lives of millions can be changed.