"There is still time to scale-up testing for HIV; to enable more people to access treatment; to increase resources needed to prevent new infections; and to end the stigma. At this critical juncture, we need to take the right turn now." — António Guterres, UN Secretary General
World AIDS Day offers an important platform to highlight the role of communities at a time when reduced funding and a shrinking space for civil society are putting the sustainability of services and advocacy efforts in jeopardy. Greater mobilization of communities is urgently required to address the barriers that stop communities delivering services, including restrictions on registration and an absence of social contracting modalities. The strong advocacy role played by communities is needed more than ever to ensure that AIDS remains on the political agenda that human rights are respected and that decision-makers and implementers are held accountable.
HIV testing is essential for expanding treatment and ensuring that all people living with HIV can lead healthy and productive lives. It is also crucial to achieving the 90–90–90 targets and empowering people to make choices about HIV prevention so they can protect themselves and their loved ones.
Significant progress has been made in the AIDS response since 1988, and today three in four people living with HIV know their status. But we still have miles to go, as the latest UNAIDS report shows, and that includes reaching people living with HIV who do not know their status and ensuring that they are linked to quality care and prevention services.
Around the world, 37 million people are living with HIV, the highest number ever; yet a quarter do not know that they have the virus. Knowing your HIV status has many advantages. It is an essential entry point to HIV treatment, prevention, and care and support services. People who test positive for HIV should be linked immediately to antiretroviral therapy to keep them alive and well and, when viral load suppression is reached, prevent transmission of the virus.
Knowing your HIV status also enables people to make informed decisions about HIV prevention options, including services to prevent children from becoming infected with HIV, male and female condoms, harm reduction services for people who inject drugs, voluntary medical male circumcision and pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis.
World AIDS Day takes place on the 1st December each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.
We, at the World Assembly Youth (WAY) we consider World AIDS Day important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education. In 2012 Melaka International Youth Dialogue, we tackled ‘Health, its My Right!’ to foster youth action towards implementation of ideas brought forward by the young people for the benefit of their societies, address the challenges and determinants of health faced by youth today and identify the role and the contribution of governments, national youth councils and other stakeholders towards improving and sustaining health as a right issue.
We also acknowledge that it is imperative for young people to have access to the adequate information about preventive measures and treatments so that it will enable them to avoid high risk and decrease death rate caused by the pandemic. Our effort in providing the right information about HIV/AIDS is not only the publication of our book pertaining to HIV/AIDS but also our continuous research performed so that the latest information and data are available for young people.
Let us urge everyone particularly young people to contribute their efforts. By joining our efforts, we will be able to decrease the access gap in terms of prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS.