2009 World AIDS Day Universal Access and Human Rights

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Each year the world observes Dec 1 as the World AIDS Day. The first tribute happened in Dec 1, 1998 thru the efforts of Dr. Jonathan Mann's group and is now considered as the longest-running disease awareness and prevention initiative of its kind in the history of public health.

It is dedicated solely to raising the awareness of the world to the AIDS pandemic which is caused by the HIV infection. And it definitely has been successful since its inception with regards to its advocacy of helping people become informed by HIV/AIDS epidemic, alleviating some of the stigma brought about by the disease and helped in increasing the knowledge of people to recognize it as a family disease.

The nursing uniforms of our health workers are a witness to it. The theme of the World AIDS Day changes every year to adapt to what is the primary important focus of the World AIDS Campaign which is the organization tasked to focus the year-round communication, prevention and education regarding AIDS. Since 2005 until 2010 the theme will be "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise" with a sub-theme that changes every year.

The main theme is designed so that political leaders do not forget their commitment to "to achieve universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care, and support by the year 2010."

For this year, the sub-theme is Universal Access and Human Rights. Global leaders have promised to make HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention and care universally accessible realizing that it is a fundamental human right. And although leaps and bounds of progress have been made in increasing access to HIV services but still there are so many things to do and greater commitment is needed to achieve universal access.

HIV can be prevented but still there are so many people - men, women and children - infected every year, every month, and every day. HIV can be treated but the much needed treatment and care is out of reach for those who badly need it. Universal access is necessary for this to happen. It can be done but leaders and people have to work together to reach this goal. If we do not attain universal access more and more people will get infected and even more will die.

According to UNAIDS in their 2009 Epidemic update that 33.4 million people are now living with HIV with 2.1 million of them children under 15 years. In 2008 alone, around 2.7 million people were infected with the virus and still some children. Most infected which are believed to have occurred from transmission in uterus, during delivery or post-partum as a result of breast feeding.

These numbers of new infections are relatively lower than those in 2004 but the number of people living with HIV continues to increase and AIDS-related diseases continue to be one of the leading causes of death globally.

There are evidences that show HIV prevention has been successful and improved access to treatment has helped make a big impact. But there are so many things that we need to do. And that is why every 1st of December we celebrate World AIDS Day to remind people that HIV is still here and anyone can do something to help the advocacy.

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